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LOUIS SULLIVAN AS HE LIV] 





A Biography by WILLARD CONNELY 



LOUIS [^ULLIVAN AS HE LIVED 

The Shaping of American Architecture 



HORIZON PRESS INC. New tort i960 



i$6o by Willard Connely 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-8160 

Manufactured in the United States of America 

Design: N. Sylvester 



PICTURE CREDITS 



Collection of A very Library, Columbia University: first 

page (B), 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 
Collection of Burnham Library of Architecture, The Art 

Institute of Chicago: first page (A, C, D), frontispiece, 

4,9, 10, 11,44 

Chicago Architectural Photographing Co.: 21, 34 
Clark Dean, Infinity Inc.: 37 
Len Gittleman: 32 

Inland Architect: 13, 17, 26, 29, 35, 36 
Richard Nickel: 14, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 31, 33, 38, 

39, 40, 42, 43 

Aaron Siskind: 18, 19, 41 
Collection of Frank Lloyd Wright: 12, 25, 30 



With affection to my respectful nephews 



DONALD OENSLAGER and PERRY RATHBONE 



for their distinction in tke visual arts 



By WILLARD CONNELY 



BEAU NASH 

THE TRUE CHESTERFIELD 

SIR RICHARD STEELE 

THE REIGN OF BEAU BRUAIMELL 

YOUNG GEORGE FARQUHAR 

COUNT D'ORSAY 

BRAWNY WYCHERLEY 

ADVENTURES IN BIOGRAPHY 

LAURENCE STERNE AS YORICK 



PREFACE 13 

PART ONE 21 

1 THE SULLIVANS 23 

2 THE BOY ARCHITECT 30 

3 FAMILY REUNION 47 

4 ONE TERM FOR PARIS 54 

5 THE NOTEBOOK AT THE BOATHOUSE 69 

6 DECORATOR AND ATHLETE 80 

7 PARTNERSHIP 95 

8 THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 102 

9 SULLIVAN AT HIS SUMMIT 123 

PART TWO 135 

10 LOSS OF AN ALLY 137 

11 THE "SET-BACK" SKYSCRAPER 143 

12 CONCERNING THE FAMILY 150 



1 3 A SERIES OF CRISES 158 

14 DISPOSSESSED 199 

15 A LADY WITH A DOG 205 

16 JOURNALISM 211 

17 ALBERT SULLIVAN DEPARTS 222 

1 8 THE DECISION OF A* ARGARET 234 

19 THE FINAL REFUGE 246 

20 THE RETURN OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 254 

21 SULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 265 
2 2 SULLIVAN AND S AARINEN 280 

23 FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT ENDORSED 292 

24 THEIR BACKS TO THE SUNRISE 298 

EPILOGUE 306 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 311 

INDEX 317 



L 



1ST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



First page: Louis Sullivan at fourteen. 
Louis Sullivan at twenty. 
Louis Sullivan at thirty-four. 
Louis Sullivan at sixty-four. 

Frontispiece: Louis Sullivan at forty-four. 

Between pages 1 64. and 7^7* 
i. Henry "W. List, 
z. Patrick Sullivan. 

3. Andrienne K. List Sullivan. 

4. Albert and Louis Sullivan. 

5. Drawing by Louis Sullivan's mother. 

6. Drawing by Louis Sullivan, ca. 1880. 

7. Drawing by Louis Sullivan, ca. 1880. 

8. Margaret Hattabough Sullivan. 

9. Albert \V. Sullivan. 

10. Louis Sullivan at forty-four. 



n. Dankmar Adler. 

12. Frank Lloyd Wright, 1897. 

13. 1885 Convention of the Western Association of Architects. 

14. The Chicago Auditorium, 1887-89. 

15. The Chicago Auditorium, entrance. 

1 6. The Chicago Auditorium, restored banquet hall. 

17. Walker Warehouse, Chicago, 1888-89. 

1 8. Walker Warehouse, exterior detail. 

19. Walker Warehouse, exterior detail. 

20. Wainwright Building, St. Louis, 1890-91. 

21. Stable, Ocean Springs, Miss., 1890. 

22. Louis Sullivan's cottage at Ocean Springs, 

23. Getty Tomb, Chicago, 1890. 

24. Getty Tomb, detail. 

25. Original sketch by Louis Sullivan, 1890. 

26. Schiller Building, Chicago, 1891-92. 

27. Schiller Building, theatre. 

28. Albert W. Sullivan Residence, Chicago, 1892. 

29. The Transportation Building, Chicago, 1893. 

30. Original sketch by Louis Sullivan, 1894-95. 

31. Door plate, Guaranty Building, Buff alo, 1894-95. 

32. Guaranty Building. 

33. Bayard Building, New York, 1897-98. 

34. Gage Building, Chicago, 1898-99. 

35. Schlesinger and Mayer Store, Chicago, 1903, 1904. 

36. Schlesinger and Mayer Store, detail. 

37. National Farmers' Bank, Owatonna, Minn., 1907-08* 

38. National Fanners' Bank, interior detail. 

39. Bradley Residence, Madison, Wis., 1909. 

40. St. Paul's Methodist Church, Cedar Rapids, 1913-14. 

41. Merchants' National Bank, Grinnell, Iowa, 1914. 

42 . People's Savings and Loan Assoc. Bank, Sidney, O., 1 9 1 7- 1 8. 

43. Fanners' and Merchants' UnionBank, Columbus, Wis., 1919. 

44. Original drawing by Louis Sullivan, 1924. 



PREFACE 



AT HAS BEEN SAID IN EUROPE THAT ARCHITECTURE 

is the one art to which America has made original 
contribution of the first rank. However that may 
be, American architecture, to a degree more recog- 
nizable than any other, has in the past fifty years 
entered into the design of European building. But 
the architect who pointed the way has remained 
in eclipse. As with Jan Vermeer, whose painting 
one marvels at whilst knowing little of the artist, 
so with Louis Sullivan: one sees his buildings or 
at least his very principles embodied in countless 
other examples of modern architecture both Ameri- 
can and European without envisaging the master 
himself. Yet he was the man who first made an 
artistic structure of the skyscraper, and who in 
the same year (1891) invented the skyscraper 
"set-back." He brought imaginative architecture 

13 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED 

in America to distinction, a feat for which he was first 
honored not in his homeland, but in France. 

Sullivan might have defended his curtailed Autobiography 
of an Idea on the ground that he wished posterity to receive 
just that: the idea of his architecture, not the full chronicle 
of his life. If he so intended, he overlooked the query that 
if the fame of an artist increases posthumously, so does the 
public appetite for knowledge of what he was like as a man. 
Writing his Autobiography when he was dying, Sullivan 
carried his story only to the age of thirty-eight, breaking it 
off, like the Squire's Tale in Chaucer, when it was but 
half-told. And in what he did write he either forgot or 
consciously excluded, for no reason valid in an autobiog- 
rapher, nearly the whole of his family and private life after 
he was sixteen. 

This personal side might have been largely filled in by 
subsequent biographers, but for two hindrances. Of the 
surviving friends and colleagues of Sullivan, at the time he 
died in 1924, several of the most abundantly informed ones 
refused to divulge what they knew. Again, Sullivan himself, 
at the end, happened not to stipulate that certain of his 
personal records be preserved. 

A few of the younger architects, including the late Max 
Dunning of Chicago, asked the late George Elmslie, as the 
architect who had served longest in the Sullivan office, to 
become the master's "literary executor," and to collect from 
various sources all of the Sullivan documents and drawings 
extant for eventual deposit in a public library. 

It is one thing to appoint a custodian of such material, 
and quite another to give him power of decision in respect 
of what to preserve and what to destroy. Unquestionably 
Elmslie performed valuable service in rounding up Sullivan 
sketches, and documents as well. But Dunning and his asso- 
ciates seem to have been unaware that Elmslie throughout 

14 



PREFACE 

his career was addicted to a strange and obstructing habit: 
he cast into wastebaskets all manner of needful records and 
drawings. "They were so ragged," he once said, "and all the 
rest of it." But again, by way of confession, "I was too 
familiar [sic] with throwing things away ... I might have 
had a Boswell set of memoranda." He fed wastebaskets as 
if they were voracious pet animals. 

However, Elmslie's apparent notion of one kind of thing 
to keep, after he became literary executor, was a copybook 
of Sullivan's business letters for the years 1903-4, nearly all of 
which letters were tediously commercial, written to con- 
tractors and suppliers of material, except a few to caretakers 
of Sullivan's cottage in Mississippi, and several times mention- 
ing journeys of his wife thither and back. The biographical 
value of this correspondence is meager. 

On the other hand, Elmslie took the unfortunate view 
that anything "personal" about Sullivanthe side which 
alone can characterize him for posterity was "trivial" and 
"inconsequential," and that any mention of his weaknesses 
(in spite of which he was strong), or of his habits or 
peculiarities (in spite of which he was great), could only 
"dim or distort" the master. A belief that so undervalues 
facts which illuminate a man, and bring him to a focus, is 
disastrous. Elmslie, as custodian, destroyed the diary of 
Louis Sullivan. When reproached, he could only say, "Oh 
well, who wants to read that old stuff, and it probably wasn't 
very important anyway." In truth the loss of that diary is 
comparable, in its fashion, to the burning of Byron's journals, 
likewise after he had died. 

For years after Sullivan's death his friends in Chicago 
refrained from discussing what sort of man he was, as if they 
entertained a superstition that Sullivan might rise up and 
denounce them. He had been given to denouncing many 
conditions of men, architects above all, and with some reason. 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED 

In 1932 his most eminent pupil, Frank Lloyd Wright, 
published An Autobiography. It recounted his relations with 
Sullivan in 1888-94, when Wright, in the period of Sullivan's 
greatest achievement, was a member of his staff, and ulti- 
mately his chief draftsman. It dealt with the renewal of 
amity between master and pupil in 1914, and with a few 
other meetings in 1922-24, Wright's handicap, in recollecting 
Sullivan, was that for twenty years (1894-1914) he did not 
see his master at all. But the shortcoming of this Sullivan 
memoir so far as it does go is that it says very little of 
Sullivan outside his office, or outside certain of his doings 
with Wright. 

When two years afterward (1934) the late Stewart 
Leonard wrote a dissertation on "Architecture in Chicago" 
he devoted a long chapter, some forty pages, to Sullivan. The 
substance of this chapter Leonard obtained from Dunning, 
who not only had enjoyed the intimacy of Sullivan during 
his last two years, but in their club, the Cliff Dwellers, had 
known him at least ten years previously. Yet Dunning dis- 
closed to Leonard exceedingly little about Sullivan as a 
personage not already familiar. 

A year later (1935) Professor Hugh Morrison published 
his Louis Sullivan. In his quest for information, Mr. Morrison 
relied in the main upon Elmslie. But in respect of Sullivan 
the man, Mr. Morrison found in Elmslie the same reticence 
which Leonard had encountered in Dunning. Elmslie as an 
authority on Sullivan's buildings was forthcoming, invaluable, 
indeed more knowledgeable than anyone else could have 
been, and his contribution, through Mr. Morrison, to the 
illustrated history of American architecture as Sullivan made 
it is beyond praise. But the biographical side left a great deal 
untold. Of Sullivan's life prior to 1889, when Elmslie joined 
the firm of Adler & Sullivan, Elmslie (like Wright prior to 
1888) knew little enough first-hand; but Elmslie so sternly 



PREFACE 

withheld most of what he thenceforth came to know of 
Sullivan personally, that Mr. Morrison wished to entitle his 
book, more accurately, The Architecture of Louis Sullivan. 

Frank Lloyd Wright published in 1949 his Genius and the 
Mobocracy. Half of it is about Sullivan, but, again, chiefly 
about his architecture. Its reproduction of the marvelous 
pencil drawings by Sullivan, such as those for the decoration 
of McVicker's Theatre, is a memorial that sets a high example 
to the profession. For the rest of the section on Sullivan, the 
book repeats from the Autobiography of 1932 much about 
the author's relations with his master; it amplifies the character 
of Sullivan at the times when Wright worked with him; it 
narrates in poignant detail a number of incidents in Sullivan's 
last days; but again, this account, not always quite accurate 
nor complete in its history, offers far too little of Sullivan 
independently, or of Sullivan apart from architecture. 

The present biography attempts to supply, within the 
partial and rather nebulous frame already known, certain 
passages in the life of Sullivan hitherto not revealed, also to 
clarify passages either obscure or but scantily told, yet sig- 
nificant in their bearing upon Sullivan's career and character. 
Of the total, his family relationships alone form no small part. 
The Sullivans and the Lists taken together constituted in 
learning and artistry an extraordinary welding of European 
races. 

George Elmslie died in April 1952. To the last, he was 
reluctant to speak of Sullivan the man, "in his habit as he 
lived," good or bad, regular or irregular, normal or singular. 
Unmindful of the loss to the world of such facts about 
Homer or Vitruvius, Shakespeare or Vermeer, John Webster 
or Moliere, Elmslie insisted that posterity was entitled to 
know only of "Sullivan's work and his writings." However, 
just two months before Elmslie died, he was prevailed upon 
to relate some of the personal history of Sullivan now set 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED 

forth. Otherwise it had died with Elmslie. His surviving 
sister, Miss Edith Elmslie, has kindly added to it so far as her 
knowledge extended. 

W. G. Purcell, a member of Sullivan's staff in 1903, and for 
many years a partner of Elmslie (who left Sullivan in 1909), 
has been tireless, generous, and enthusiastic in furnishing 
other unpublished personal matter appertaining to Sullivan. 
Later colleagues in the Sullivan office, Mr. Adolph Budina 
and Mr. Homer Sailor, were most helpful in recounting their 
experiences, Mr. Budina having furnished four new letters 
from Sullivan. Outside, Mr. Bruce Goff kindly sent one. 

Miss Ver Nooy, of the Chicago University Library, was 
good enough to bring to light the addresses of the Sullivans 
in Chicago down the years, with notes upon the various 
neighborhoods in the time of the Sullivans. The Chicago Art 
Institute obliged with notes upon the Sullivan correspondence 
in their keeping. Professor James Grote Van Derpool, of 
the Avery Library, Columbia University, kindly reported in 
full upon the friendship between Sullivan and Lyndon Smith, 
the younger New York architect Minor but substantiating 
links have with no little care and pains been contributed by 
many other persons in various parts of the country, as in St. 
Louis, Richmond, Washington; and during my visit to Ocean 
Springs, where I was courteously helped by Mr. J. K. Lemon, 
Mrs. Wiswell, and the Rector of St. John's Church. 

It remains to mention in some detail the most significant 
new material found. Miss Andrienne Sullivan, the only niece 
of Louis Sullivan, collected it with much labor and open- 
heartedness. Her father, Albert Sullivan, a distinguished 
railway executive, was the architect's only brother. But 
Louis Sullivan, in his Autobiography, never mentioned him. 
Miss Sullivan turned up unpublished letters which bear 
witness to the deep affection between the brothers in the 
first half of their lives, while she has also explained the 

18 



PREFACE 

mystery of the complete estrangement between them there- 
after. One letter written by Louis Sullivan in Paris amusingly 
describes his adventures at the Beaux Arts and elsewhere; in 
another, Sullivan gives a dramatic account of how he obtained 
his first great commission, the Chicago Auditorium. 

Again, Miss Sullivan discovered drawings (landscape and 
botanical) by both parents of the Sullivans which indicate 
that Louis Sullivan directly inherited his talent. She produced 
a number of unpublished photographs of the family. She 
came across descriptions, long lost to sight, of masterly 
decorative architecture designed and built by Louis Sullivan 
at the age of nineteen. After searching in the attic of her 
father's house in Poughkeepsie, she found a large notebook 
(216 pages, 8 inches by 13), first used by the young Sullivan 
as a pupil, aged sixteen, at "Boston Tech"; then, 1875-81, 
used by both him and his brother in Chicago, also by the 
Chicago architect John Edelmann who taught Sullivan a 
great deal of what he knew as a repository of literary and 
athletic records, of portrait-sketches, of exercises in botany, 
and of architectural drawings and theory. Not least, Miss 
Sullivan recovered an unpublished letter (about 2500 words) 
written by Max Dunning only a fortnight after Sullivan died, 
in which Dunning narrated in detail the history of the last 
two years of Sullivan's life. 

Some portions of this new material first appeared serially 
in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects. 

To Mr. Adolf K. Placzek, of the Avery Library, and to Mr. 
Richard Nickel, I add my thanks for their aid with illustrations. 

Finally I wish to thank the Librarian of the Royal Institute 
of British Architects, and Mr. Williams of his staff, for their 
constant help and kindness during my preliminary researches. 

W. C. 

WHITEGATES, 
GODALMING 



PART ONE 



CHAPTER 



T 



HE SULLIVANS 



AATRICK SULLIVAN USED TO SAY HIS FATHER HAD 
been a landscape painter. The boy himself could 
draw a tolerable picture of woods and fields; but it 
was another art, music, that possessed his soul. As 
a child he learned to play a violin, upon which, 
with earnestness and vim, his ear correct, his 
fingers agile, his body swaying to the beat, he 
sawed away at the notes of little Irish jigs. 

One would hardly have suspected the music 
in him. The sight of Patrick was droll. His face 
was once described as "excessively Irish," which 
meant that in repose it looked like the caricatures 
in the old comic papers, rather simian. The little 
eyes, overshadowed by brushes of brow, were set 
in caverns; the nose, tiny at the bridge, splayed out 
like a parsnip; and his thatch of hair seemed cut 
by himself. He was uncommonly slim, too, with 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

shoulders that fell away like the shoulders of a bottle. Yet 
here was a lad dedicated to the Muses, in his fashion. 

It was in 1830, when he was twelve, rather an advanced 
twelve, that Patrick accompanied his father (a widower, 
with no other children), to an Irish county fair. Not the 
younger Sullivan, but the elder, strayed off perhaps to view 
the surrounding landscapes. Patrick was not at all "lost." He 
doughtily determined to stray in his turn, and pausing only 
long enough to pick up his fiddle he trudged away to earn 
his living by it, as a "wandering minstrel." 

In this vagabondage his father neglected to intercept him. 
Patrick, thenceforth self-supporting, passed most of his ado- 
lescence as leader of the merrymaking at roadside inns. Music 
he loved as one to whom all other sound is discord. 

While he suffered from no illusion that he should one day 
be a great violinist, since he lacked both the funds for study 
and the talent equal to such a career, he perceived, in the 
responses to his playing, that very few people danced with 
as much grace as he put into his music. Why should he not 
prepare himself to be a teacher of dancing? That he could 
do within a short time at little cost. But Ireland was not big 
enough to hold Patrick Sullivan. Capping with ambition his 
sense of enterprise, he set out like many another of his race 
for London. He was now in his early twenties. 

At first he studied dancing. Then he proceeded to off er 
lessons in the "graces of the ballroom." There was just 
enough of the exotic about Sullivan, coupled with his in- 
stinctive musical gifts, to attract pupils in remunerative num- 
bers. Since London in the new reign of Victoria was gayer 
than Ireland with its potato famine, he thrived, and in time 
set up his own school. 

After a few seasons with the English, Sullivan visited 
Paris, reckoning that a little experience in Continental ball- 
rooms would heighten his prestige. With great deliberation 



THE SULLIVANS 

he gathered whatever the Parisian masters had to teach. In the 
end, this excursion settled his future. 

He was persuaded, by whom does not appear, that Amer- 
ica held the most lucrative prospects for his teaching, also 
that it was not in New York, but Boston, where dancing was 
in the ascendant. Sullivan embarked for Boston in July 1847, 
at the age of twenty-nine. If he took litde with him except 
his European style and method, he was as full of confidence 
as when he had left Dublin for London. Without flash of 
eye he might be, but not without dash of movement. 

How far Patrick Sullivan may have fathomed the status 
of dancing in Boston is a mystery. Actually he was attempt- 
ing to storm a citadel. For twenty years Count Lorenzo 
Papanti, a lithe Florentine, had been a kind of Beau Nash of 
the Boston ballroom, dominating the dancing of society; for 
ten years he had run in Tremont Street an academy tricked 
out like a palace, with crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors, 
and the first spring-floor in America. Sullivan could only 
hope to pick up pupils without the pale. There might be 
some families curious enough to try the steps of London and 
Paris as opposed to the Tuscan code; but the new teacher 
from abroad was challenging a man well entrenched, and the 
vital question was whether enough pupils from the social 
fringes of Boston would venture to take lessons from a master 
unknown* 

None of that deterred young Mr. Sullivan, a dancer these 
twelve years himself, now adorned with a beard of terp- 
sichorean command, a luxuriant beard backed by a wide 
black cravat and set off by a waistcoat cut low. He believed 
that since Boston was dance-mad he should gain a fair living, 
Papanti notwithstanding. Sullivan opened a rival dancing 
academy. 

With difficulty he gained a certain following; Boston 
was ever cautious. But it was somewhat in Sullivan's favor, 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

indeed, that Papanti had so long made dancing fashionable, 
and a few mothers, who sooner or later put their daughters 
and sons under the rhythmic discipline of the newcomer 
from overseas, began in time to seek instruction for them- 
selves as well. 

Not too badly founded were Sullivan's expectations. In his 
very first season, during which he studied the lie of the land, 
the new teacher discovered that "the thing" to do in the 
summer was to follow the f amilies of his clientele to New- 
buryport, some forty miles northward, where a little course 
of holiday lessons in dancing would be acceptable. This small 
town on the Merrimac was full of old colonial houses, and 
of memories of whaling and of clipper ships. A rustic land- 
mark was a curious "chain bridge," one of the first suspension 
bridges in America. 

Sullivan had a sketching pad with him. On a day of 
leisure, in this summer of 1848, he sat on a hill above this 
bridge and drew the landscape, as his father might have done: 
to the right, nested in trees, an ancient oblong house with 
a portico, the picturesque bridge hazy in the background, 
and trees on either bank, together with an old rail fence 
which marked a road along a bend in the river. The "artist" 
could draw foliage, but not grass; his trees and shrubs were 
real; he knew the uses of light and shadow to pick out leaves 
and branches. But he was fully aware that in dancing his 
livelihood was safer. 

For several years he moved agreeably in the musical 
circles of Boston. Pupils and parents introduced him to many 
other people of musical proclivities. Upon one occasion 
Sullivan was struck by the playing of a young girl at a piano, 
a girl possibly a pupil who though only sixteen seemed able 
to express all that Chopin meant. Her oval face was good- 
humored, rather in the manner of the Mona Lisa; she had 
luminous hazel eyes, sparse brows, a straight upper lip, and 

26 



THE SULLIVANS 

a chin as rounded as a babe's. The rest of her features, in a 
face whose firm oval was sure to outlast her youth, were what 
is called "regular," an advantage to which their mobility lent 
added charm. The dancing master was quick to see that the 
feeling of an artist was there. Was he not an artist himself? 

Andrienne List had lately (1850) arrived in Boston from 
Geneva, with her parents, her younger sister Jenny, now 
fifteen, and her brother Jules, aged ten. They were living on a 
farm ten miles out, in South Reading. Thither, before long, 
Patrick Sullivan made his eager way. 

With this family he encountered odd disparities in years. 
Himself seventeen years older than Andrienne, he found that 
her father, Henri List, was so much younger than his wife 
that List and Sullivan were nearer in years than Sullivan and 
Andrienne. List had been born in 1805, Sullivan in 1818. 

Henri List was an amiable German from Hanover, smooth- 
faced, with a wall of forehead, bottle-nosed, and with a fringe 
of hair over each ear. He was a learned man. At both Got- 
tingen and Berlin he had studied theology, and read deeply in 
the ancient tongues, including Hebrew. Appointed to a 
lectureship in the University of Geneva, he did not lecture 
long. He cultivated his acquaintance with Anna Mattheus, 
a little Swiss lady who had inherited a lace-and-linen shop. 
She was sweet, gentle, and methodical; from her Franco- 
Italian strain the cast of her features was Florentine. Young 
List married her while still in his twenties, and in order to 
help manage the shop he quit the University. For about 
fifteen years, during which time the three children were born, 
he managed the shop downward. The business sense of Henri 
List proved less sound than his scholarship. He speculated, 
and lost. His wife intervened, however, before disaster quite 
overtook the family, and the Lists emigrated just in time. 

Their twenty-four acres in South Reading were yielding 
them a living of sorts. But List was not a very serious farmer. 

27 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

Indulging his scholarly bent in the mysteries of astronomy, he 
spent rather more time at the telescope than at the plow, with 
the result that Madame List found it needful to supplement 
the family income by giving lessons in French to the ladies 
of Boston. Yet the Lists were all living as contentedly in 
their new world as if they were well-to-do. 

The eldest child, Andrienne, was doubly artistic. Apart 
from her music, she was gifted with an extraordinary talent 
for drawing flowers and leaves* She could pluck a spray of 
blooms and reproduce to the life, in pencil, every petal, every 
leaf, from however difficult an angle, with every surface so 
truly shaded that the drawing would adorn a book of botany. 

Patrick Sullivan was fascinated. Here was a young 
European miss who could not only outdraw him by far, 
but who had mastered the technique of the composers, at 
the pianoforte, to a point of which he had never got within 
sight. She was often emotional, and sometimes ecstatic. Yet 
Sullivan, from the success of his academy, looked upon 
himself as not unworthy the sphere of art, and he put down 
their interests as identical. They were two beings so matched 
in talents that for them to have met was nothing short of 
destiny. He was thirty-four, twice the age of the girl; this 
he disregarded. 

He perceived that the young pianist would not only 
embellish his orchestra, but might well take a hand at teaching 
some of the younger fry whether to play the piano or to 
dance. Andrienne was inclined to take an equally practical 
view, while her parents had to grant that a suitor so senior 
was at least a more natural order than their own inverted 
disparity in years. 

The fondness of Patrick and Andrienne for each other, 
then, grew apace on the sensible grounds of compatibility. In 
August 1852 the confident immigrants married, not without 
love, but for the added substantial reason that each thought 
the alliance a good thing. 

28 



THE SULLIVANS 

The dancing master, perhaps having found after five years 
that the dominance of Count Papanti in Boston did not leave 
a competitor quite enough scope, believed that his talented 
partner justified their search for a larger and wealthier 
following. Soon after their wedding Sullivan wound up his 
activities, and set out with his bride to open a new school in 
New York. This transfer somewhat resembled his abandon- 
ing London for Paris; if in one town he was not doing enough 
to satisfy his ambition, Sullivan liked to test the prospects 
in another. 

Their merits met with some favor; but if there was no 
Papanti in New York, the new arrival in the field apparently 
found the competition of lesser masters much sharper from 
very numbers, and before long he began to wonder whether 
he had wisely changed towns. Nor, in time, were he and his 
young wife able to conduct their joint teaching without 
interruption. In September 1854 a son was born to them. 
They christened him Albert; it was an age when the Prince 
Consort had many a namesake. 

Deprived for a considerable time of his wife's aid in the 
ballroom, Sullivan seems to have found the expenses of New 
York too heavy to meet. While the couple had no kin in 
this city, there were convenient grandparents whence they 
had come. Patrick Sullivan was for the first time obliged to 
look back. Before the infant Albert was two years old the 
family had retreated to Boston. 

They went to live in a house in South Bennett Street. 
Sullivan made a bold fresh start with another academy; but 
for a renewed stretch of time he had to face alone the question 
of livelihood, for Andrienne, again in September (1856), 
within a fortnight of the birthday of young Albert, bore a 
second son. To him they gave the names Louis Henri, much 
to the gratification of his grandfather Henri List. 



CHAPTER 



T 



HE BOY ARCHITECT 



AHIS 



WAS THE EXTENT OF THE FAMILY, FOUR- 

square. Two infants, for all the blessing of them, 
seriously delayed Sullivan's design of a working 
partnership at the school, and during the earliest 
years of Albert and Louis their father had to revert 
to his dancing as a single teacher. Andrienne did 
keep up her music. She seemed to have transmitted 
her passion for it to her younger son; she used to 
find him, when he was three years old, curled up 
under her piano, where he had secreted himself to 
hear her play. 

The two children were in disposition and looks 
little enough alike. Albert tended to be solemn and 
earnest, while Louis was given to noise and mischief. 
Albert's prominent eyes had the slanting upper lids 
characteristic of many Germans, and his thin nose 
was beginning to resemble his mother's, whereas 

30 



THE BOY ARCHITECT 

Louis, both in nose and in his overshadowed eyes, was com- 
pletely a Sullivan. Again like his father, Louis had a mop 
of black hair; Albert's thinner hair descended from the Lists. 
Both were sturdy boys; but the elder, even allowing for his 
two years' start, promised to be considerably the stronger 
brother. 

When they were seven and five years old their parents 
entrusted them to the Lists, who from the farm in South 
Reading arranged to send their charges to the local school. 
Albert conformed; Louis rebelled. In the kind of class in 
which the pupils in the front rows "recited" while those in 
back were supposed to study their lessons, Louis chose to 
listen to the reciters, whose scraps of answers he offered when 
later his own turn came. This his teacher, in complaining to 
the Lists, called "inattention." Louis did attend, but in his own 
way. Taken to the Baptist church, he asked awkward 
questions. "Why doesn't the minister roar when he prays? He 
does when he preaches." When they let him try Sunday 
School instead, he objected to having to hear about the 
crucifixion, on grounds of its cruelty. 

Henri and Anna List, like many grandparents, were 
indulgent rather than disciplinary. The old scholar thought 
he could partly make up for any lapses of either boy at 
school by giving them a few lessons in astronomy, and to 
this the young Sullivans both responded, although Louis took 
to planet-gazing rather as a game than as a study. Nor was 
their maiden Aunt Jenny who "spoke with delicate precision, 
in a voice scarcely audible," and who "inhaled her smiles" 
a corrective force in the household for long. In fact, she was 
as winsome a young woman as her sister, though not so 
artistic, and in 1862, when she was twenty-six, following the 
family custom of disregarding inequality in years, Jenny 
married a widower much older, Captain Walter Whittlesey. 
He was a captain of transport on the Hudson River and the 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

Erie Canal, and he lived in Lyons Falls, not far from Utica, 
New York. The Captain was a "sizable" man, calm and 
courteous, swarthy and grave, and his black beard was 
"sprinkled with gray." The departure of Jenny List left on 
the farm only the son Jules, now, in the eyes of Louis, a big 
man of twenty-one; the usefulness of Uncle Jules to the 
young Sullivans rested in the circumstance that he skated on 
the ice of a pond, and behind him pulled the boys in a sled. 

When the winter was past, Louis, at least, experimented 
in freedom. Bored with his school, he went in for roaming. 
A place in the vicinity that appealed more to his fancy was 
a great marsh; there he staked out a domain for himself, and 
among the reeds, cedars and cattails peopled it with imaginary 
retainers. For lunch he had his blouse filled with rolls and 
cakes. He built dams and formed ponds. And whenever he 
tired of his kingdom he rambled in the other direction to 
the village, where he spent the remainder of the day watching 
a molder or a cobbler. 

As soon as Patrick Sullivan discovered this truancy he 
took Louis away from the genial Lists, also away from his 
more amenable brother Albert. The form of chastening that 
the father himself proceeded to administer was severe: he was 
to set going one of his academies in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and 
to that alien and isolated town he took Louis, and kept him, 
for a punitive period of six months. When the boy was once 
more entrusted to his grandparents he left off dreaming in 
marshes. 

The Sullivans were now passing each summer, between 
seasons, at Newburyport, a rewarding spot for dancing les- 
sons to holiday-makers. And it offered them their best oppor- 
tunity to be with their children for a regular period. Albert 
and Louis accordingly left the farm for the sea at the end of 
school session. There were intervals of leisure from the 
dancing-nights at Newburyport, and at these times the family 

3* 



THE BOY ARCHITECT 

went down to Cape Anne, idling now at Pigeon Cove, now 
at Folly Cove. It was here that the most pregnant instruction 
of the boys in their tender years occurred. Their mother 
always had her drawing materials beside her. One portfolio 
after another she filled with exquisite sketches of marine 
life, animal and vegetable alike, also of botanical specimens 
from the undergrowth roundabout. Her sons at her knee 
looked on, then sat apart and mimicked her masterly strokes. 
Whatever inclination for drawing may have come to young 
Albert and Louis from Patrick Sullivan, the "landscapist," it 
soon grew abundantly clear that both had inherited from 
their mother a lively aptitude with the pencil. In the case of 
Louis, this eagerness expressed itself in particular in his draw- 
ing of leaves and flowers. He was his mother in little. 

Albert had grown so fast that he looked three or four 
years, not two years, older than his brother. As a pupil at 
school he was a "teacher's pride," dependable, hard-working, 
appetent. There was no question of what to do with him; in 
due course he entered Boston Latin School, and stayed there. 
Louis tried the Rice School in Boston, and liked it not; he 
tried the Brimmer School, and liked it no better. He learned 
what he was obliged to learn, but devoted all the time he 
dared take to strolls in the streets. 

Before he was twelve years old, Louis was singularly aware 
that whereas people stirred him hardly at all, he liked to look 
at buildings. These, not persons, he characterized as austere 
or respectable, pompous or dreary. If he found none that 
was "noble, 5 * he so much admired a Masonic Temple, in light 
gray granite, which adorned the corner of Tremont and 
Boylston Streets, that as he had imagined a realm of his own 
in the marsh, he now in his mind's eye "improved" the 
Temple by adding arches, turrets, towers, all that ornament 
in which the buildings of Boston, in his opinion, fell so 
unromantically short. 

33 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

On a walk down Commonwealth Avenue one day, Louis 
saw a bearded man in a frock coat and top hat emerge from 
a handsome building and drive off. The boy asked a laborer 
about this gentleman. He was the architect. "Was there an 
architect for the Masonic Temple?" There was. "How did 
he make the outside?" The laborer answered, "Out of his 
head, and books." Louis did not relish hearing about the 
books; but he did make up his mind, on the spot, to create 
buildings out of his head. 

When he confided his "aim in life" to his father, Patrick 
Sullivan "mumbled something about Michael Angelo," but 
promised to provide schooling for his son until he should be 
twenty-one. This education, the parents thought, should 
continue in Boston, in order that Louis might proceed to the 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, seat of the best 
School of Architecture in the country. His case was unlike 
his brother's. Albert thought of going to sea. He was now 
fourteen (1868), and for the year or two longer that he 
should remain in school he could study anywhere. 

For the second time the Sullivans now took the radical step 
of leaving New England. Its climate did not appear to agree 
with the mother of the family; she had suffered from repeated 
onslaughts of rather virulent illness, which had left her frail 
at thirty-three. Sullivan in his Irish way proposed moving to 
Chicago, as if he understood Chicago to be a health resort. 
Turning over Louis once more to the obliging grandparents, 
the Sullivans, before winter set in, departed in November for 
the west, taking with them their elder son. Louis, unperturbed, 
was at the moment engrossed in Cooper, Marryat, and 
Thomas Mayne Reid, who from South Reading transported 
him even farther away than Chicago. 

The migration of the family, however, somewhat sobered 
Louis as a schoolboy. While he did not like his school as 
such, he had made his decision in point of what he wanted to 

34 



THE BOY ARCHITECT 

be, and he worked with a will at the lessons mathematics, 
botany, drawing which he believed would help him to that 
end. He heard from his brother. The family in Chicago had 
located themselves at 53 Peck Court. So agreeably had the 
lively western city caught Albert in its mesh that it quite 
banished the sea from his reckoning: he now wished to take 
up "business." 

But no recital of the attractions of Chicago swerved Louis 
from his course. Daily this young man of thirteen went in 
from the farm to his school in Boston. In the autumn of 1869 
his Aunt Jenny Whitdesey came from Lyons Falls for a long 
visit, bringing her daughter, Anna, aged five and named, of 
course, for the beloved grandmother. Snow fell in South 
Reading by mid-November, and Anna, adoring her big 
cousin like all tots of her years, usurped as much time of 
Louis outdoors as she could get. Of these doings Mrs. List 
wrote in November to her older grandson, writing also upon 
Albert's personal concern: 



My dear Albert: 

It is a bit late to reply to your good little letter of October 
... I was awaiting the reply to my last letter to your mother 
... to speak at the same time of receiving the message of your 
papa. All arrived Saturday . . . and as I do not expect to write 
to your mama immediately, I charge you to say it to them, 
with my good wishes, and my satisfaction in seeing them suc- 
ceed so well in their classes this winter. I don't doubt that 
it will so continue, and I wish it for them with all my heart. 

I write you in French, my dear boy, because that is easier 
for me, and I think it will make no difference to you, assum- 
ing you can read it arid understand it. Well, my dear Albert, 
there you are on the point of taking the great step of enter- 
ing business. It is your first step in real life, and in order that 
it be good you must before doing it ponder well the choice 
you will make, so that it be firm. You no longer wish the 
sea, and you are right. Business is after all the best thing. 

35 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

Will it be dry goods, or provisions, or colonial merchandise, 
such as tea, sugar, farina, and the like? 

Whatever your choice, my dear friend, I wish you com- 
plete aptitude for it and complete success; but above all things, 
the blessing of God, without which we can succeed in nothing. 

A year has passed since you left Boston, and you see that 
your parents, with perseverance, are beginning to prosper bet- 
ter than ever. This ought to be a good lesson for you to follow 
their example. 

Louis still has plenty of time to get to such a point, pur- 
suing that to which he is devoting himself, for he has taste 
for study and strong perseverance in addition to his great 
desire to learn. He asks me to remember him to you all, for, 
where he fishes, he can't stop to write, not to mention hav- 
ing very little time for it. Nevertheless I wish he would get 
into the habit of writing letters. He says he doesn't know 
how, which is scarcely true. 

We have at this moment Aunt Jenny and Anna with us, 
and we are greatly enjoying their visit. Anna is a dear girl, 
who has much developed in every way since I last saw her. 
I hope they will stay until the end of the year. Anna would 
like to be with Louis all the time, whom she greatly loves, 
and with whom she plays almost like a boy. She would like 
to run outdoors with him in spite of the cold. Last week we 
had snow, and they made with Tommy [a neighboring 
schoolmate] a snow-man. It was laid low the next day by 
having snowballs thrown at it. [The snow] has melted and 
frozen again; but that does not stop the game. However, 
as there is no more snow at the moment they have to give 
it up, but are waiting for another [snowfall] . . . 

But I see the end of my paper, and I must say adieu, tny 
dear boy ... I send you the kisses I cannot give you. 

Your grandmother, who loves you. 

When you make your choice, write me of it yourself, 
will you? . . . 

The progress of the Sullivans in their new milieu seemed 
now as firm as Louis' earnestness at his books. By the end of 
the year the Whitdeseys, having gained from Louis and his 

36 



THE BOY ARCHITECT 

grandfather the promise of a return visit to Lyons Falls in 
the coming summer, had left the farm on their homeward 
journey. 

Louis worked unabatedly at most of his lessons except 
French; yet French was the only subject in which he took 
a prize. The winter was long, and the spring seemed longer, 
what with the anticipated holiday, farther from home than 
he had ever travelled. But the time came at last this summer 
of 1870 and with the benevolent Henri List, who was yet 
only 65, he set out for the unknown land beyond Massachu- 
setts. It thrilled the boy, as he crossed high above the Hudson 
River, to think that men had the power to build a bridge that 
would bear a train. At length the travellers reached Utica, 
where they changed for the run of thirty miles north to 
Lyons Falls. 

But it was not his little cousin Anna who so much engaged 
Louis as he arrived at the house of his aunt. Anna, after all, 
was a child. On the veranda Louis met a niece of the Captain, 
Minnie Whittlesey, aged eighteen, who had come up from 
Utica to study French with her uncle's second wife. In some 
ways, Minnie was a character out of Henry James. She was 
in dark blue silk, and she was sitting in a rocking chair, with 
a book. If not beautiful, with her pale tapering face, thin 
but sensitive lips, and dark hair, she had one small demon 
peeping through each of her "gray Scotch eyes," and upon 
a boy only four years younger she exerted a world of charm. 

Minnie told Louis she was "in society" in Utica, and could 
no longer climb trees. She told him of her coming-out, of 
the old families, of her brother at Yale, of her travels in 
Europe. Unaccompanied by Anna, they went on long walks 
to a ledge of rock above a rivulet whence beyond grew "hay, 
hay, hay for miles." Minnie read to Louis from Tennyson 
and Byron, but was hardly moved with his account of his 
own reading until he recited from memory the episode of 

37 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

Elijah and the whirlwind. This young lady had not been 
brought up by Calvinists. 

On another day, Louis listened to her "hour of French" 
with his aunt. Said Minnie to the boy, "Louis, say to me once 
every day, c je t'aime/ " But when he did, she only told him 
how musically he pronounced the words, as well he might, 
having been cradled in them. Again, at the ledge, which 
Minnie called the "pulpit," she persuaded him to talk of "his 
life." And then she murmured, "How well you tell it!" So 
it was that the "worldly" miss of eighteen, with her somewhat 
rapturous allusions to what she had seen and done in Paris, ex- 
tended the boundaries of her young companion's daydreams. 

Now left more or less to his own educational devices, 
Louis upon his return to Boston chose to enroll in the English 
High School. This choice, meaning merely ignorance of 
Latin, was unfortunate for a pupil of his ability; mathematics, 
at which he was apt, was the only subject upon which he 
should need to stretch his mind. However, in the person of 
one Moses Woolson, the English master, Louis seems to 
have encountered an exhorter to original thinking. Woolson 
surprised his pupil by telling him the best history of English 
literature was written by a Frenchman (Taine); and the 
teacher spoke of the "power of detachment" of the French 
mentality. Woolson was at least a personality of some force; 
he harped upon the "cardinal" things order, attention, con- 
centration. 

But the boy was unsettled by the impermanence of his 
connections with his family. In 1871 his grandmother died, 
full of years. Her affection and maternal care had meant 
much to the young Sullivans, and her loss thrust Louis upon 
his own responsibilities untimely. Henri List did not feel 
able to live alone; his son Jules had gone to Philadelphia for 
his livelihood, and the old man decided to join him there. 

He left Louis, like a pet poodle, in the care of neighbors, 

38 



THE BOY ARCHITECT 

the Tompsons, whose son George was probably the "Tommy" 
who had helped Louis and Anna fashion the snow-man. Louis 
of course could not be interrupted in his preparation for 
architecture. And as it happened, there was something to be 
said for the Tompsons, a musical father and a mathematical 
son, gifted like Louis himself. 

Whereas it was under his mother's piano that the toddler 
had first given ear to Chopin, it was at the keyboard, along- 
side John Tompson, that the grown child came to know the 
great oratorios; recollecting these days, Sullivan averred that 
the "augmented fifth" brought him a "nervous thrill," while 
the "dominant seventh" conveyed a "gorgeous sorrow." At 
the High School, he went on with mineralogy, and liked 
learning to classify; and with botany, because he could draw 
buds and blossoms as if with the very hand of his mother. 
Young George Tompson, now a student of engineering at 
"Boston Tech," thought a boy with a mind as quick as Louis' 
might present himself as a candidate in architecture even at 
sixteen. Although another two years under Woolson would 
have steadied Louis, and although his progress had suffered 
much from changes in family and changes in schools, the 
candidate agreed. Among the qualities developing in him, 
patience was not one. He knew what he wanted to do; he 
would take the shortest road to it. The entrance to the 
Institute, as to all colleges of technology, was through the 
gate of mathematics which by nature he opened with ease. 

The school, Rogers Hall, stood at the corner of Boylston 
and Berkeley Streets. Its professor was William Ware, of the 
Boston firm of architects, Ware & Van Brunt; both of them 
had been pupils in New York of Richard Hunt, himself for 
many years a student at the Beaux Arts, and now a leader of 
his profession in America. Ware had built Memorial Hall, 
Harvard, in red brick, which he dappled with blue and 
yellow bricks, and which he embroidered on its peaks with 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

little iron fences. Whatever his architectural crimes, this 
bewhiskered dignitary was a forceful lecturer, and he was 
deft at the blackboard. He also had the sobriety to retain as 
an assistant Eugene Letang, from the atelier libre of Emile 
Vaudremer, of the Beaux Arts. Letang, who was about thirty, 
was sallow, lean, and sparsely bearded; he was given to such 
judicious maxims as "From discussion comes the light." 

Into this august milieu Louis Sullivan entered as con- 
scientiously as ever any freshman did. At a stationer's in 
Cornhill he bought a ponderous notebook, 8 inches by 13, 
mottled, leather-cornered and leather-backed, and on its back 
entitled in gilt, "Records." Its abundance of pages, 217, 
afforded enough space to make a full-blown architect reel. 
"Notes," wrote Louis (November 23, 1872) in his Spencerian 
hand, "on Proffessor [sic] Ware's Lectures on Architecture." 
And overleaf: "Lecture i. Introductory." Then on with the 
platitudes which to freshmen are revelations: "In offices we 
get that training which experience alone can furnish. ... In 
a school we become acquainted with the science of architec- 
ture." These stalwart principles Louis reaffirmed with mar- 
ginal notes. But the professor soon launched into terms: 
pedestal, column, and entablature; portico, architrave, and 
frieze. And the pupil with six years of ambition behind him 
swam sturdily into the current. 

At sixteen Louis found himself in the midst of not a few 
students of eighteen or twenty, some of whom had akeady 
attended college elsewhere. He tried to imitate their swagger, 
their sideburn at the ear; he neatly parted his hair at the side, 
and he wore a sprawling bow tie. Still a plump-faced boy, still 
bottle-nosed, he slightly narrowed his intent brown eyes to 
look more mature. And he began to draw the "five orders of 
architecture." But the light that came to him turned him to 
pictures, not pediments, to style, not orders. Letang kept him 
upon "projects." This involved discipline, to which the 



THE BOY ARCHITECT 

impulsive Louis with his haphazard schooling did not kindly 
knuckle under. 

As when he was ten years old, he took to roaming Boston 
again, gazing at buildings, in particular at the new Brattle 
Square Church, built by a young architect, Henry Richard- 
son. This designer also had studied at the Beaux Arts, but, 
travelling south, had broken from Paris and himself decided 
upon an adaptation of the Romanesque. Not only was this 
far from modern French, but farther still from English Gothic 
or Victorian, to one of which every young American, follow- 
ing Hunt, adhered if he had studied abroad. Richardson was 
not an imitator, but a reformer. His Brattle tower resembled 
a campanile, topped by a low pyramid, a tower with openings 
both vertical and horizontal, and with a very tall main 
window. After the tower, Louis studied the great triple door, 
with its arches. Without knowing what attracted him, he 
was looking at a triumphant diminution of Victorian ginger- 
bread. And Richardson, this crusader for simplicity and 
repose, was only thirty-four. 

Louis at "Tech" chafed at his confinement, the routine, 
the orthodoxy; the sets of definitions wearied him, his grand 
notebook grew heavier (it weighed over a pound and a half) 
as he lugged it about, and after page 22 he was no longer able 
to write "lecture notes" in it. None of the school staff 
inspired him like Moses Woolson. And young Sullivan con- 
cluded he must in person seek the source: Paris. Not only 
had Woolson himself spoken eloquently of France, not only 
had Minnie Whittlesey before him voiced her enthusiasm of 
that land, but Louis now allowed his own respect for Eugene 
Letang of the Beaux Arts and his admiration of the architect 
Richardson whom France had nurtured. 

His notion of preparing for the Beaux Arts was not to 
submit to three or four years of indoctrination by Professor 
Ware, but to go haring off, after a single year in "Tech,** 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Pan One 

to an architect's office to get "that training which experience 
alone can furnish," just as the professor had at the start 
prescribed, though without saying how soon a student should 
forsake the school. Louis did not know whether his father 
would approve this restlessness, whether Patrick Sullivan 
would pay for so much experimentation, notwithstanding 
having promised to back him until he was twenty-one. But 
the boy hit upon the plan of working in Philadelphia because 
he could there rejoin his grandfather and uncle. If then he 
earned something, his cost to his father, before Paris, would 
be negligible. 

Evidently no objection arose from Chicago. Louis, in 
taking leave of "Boston Tech," seems to have obtained from 
Ware an introduction to his former master in New York, 
Richard Hunt. On arrival in the great city, the tyro of seven- 
teen called at the office of the great man. Hunt, in his prime 
at forty-five, was a dandy with a goatee and a Continental 
manner, rather a grand duke, but given in conversation to 
salty and disarming epithets. Having studied abroad for eleven 
years, he had gained at the end even an inspectorship of works 
built from the Louvre to the Tuileries. Round New York, 
he designed tall office buildings and libraries, college halls, 
country houses for the rich; and he believed that America 
should not try too hard to improve in style upon the French 
Renaissance. He said he had "found New York in brown-stone 
and was turning it into grey." Hunt received Louis with 
kindness, chatted in picturesque phrase about life at the 
Beaux Arts; and his office recommended in Philadelphia the 
firm of Furness and Hewitt, since Frank Furness, like Ware 
and Van Brunt, had been Hunt's pupil in New York. Young 
Sullivan, encouraged, departed buoyantly. 

As soon as Louis had made anchorage in West Philadel- 
phia with his kin, he trudged into town. For his age, he was 
something of a strategist. He reconnoitered, until he dis- 

4* 



THE BOY ARCHITECT 

covered a building designed by the firm he was pointing for. 
Then he braved the door of Frank Furness. It was at the top 
of a four-story brick structure at Third and Chestnut Streets; 
but what really marked the neighborhood was a monumental 
building of eight stories, opposite in Chestnut Street, which 
housed "Dr. D. Jayne's Family Medicines." This edifice, 
designed in 1849 by one William Johnston, displayed above 
its ground floor continuous piers for six stories, arched, and 
surmounted by a row of seven circular windows. There, 
however, its dignity ended. It was capped by four little 
turrets, of which the outer two bore each a huge mortar and 
pestle, while above all rose a Gothic tower of eeriest legend, 
still unscathed by the bolt of lightning it deserved. 

Louis gained ready admittance to the man he sought, and 
spoke the piece that all beginners have to recite. 

Furness, contrary to his gentle brother Horace, the Shake- 
spearean scholar, posed as a ruffian. Above his crinkly fanlike 
red beard his face resembled a bulldog's. He dressed in 
loud plaids, he scowled, and he was profane. 

When his applicant said he had studied at "Tech," Furness 
cut in, "Of course you don't know anything, and are full of 
damnable conceit. . . . What brought you here?" 

Louis seems to have divulged nothing of his inquiries at 
Hunt's office, but glibly explained that he admired a building, 
in South Broad Street, which he found was the work of 
Messrs. Furness and Hewitt. 

To this the not-impervious architect added mild praise of 
his own part in that design, but vouchsafed that "only the 
Greeks knew how to build." And then, "Of course you don't 
want any pay. Ten dollars a week. Come tomorrow . . . you 
won't outlast a week." 

Nevertheless at the end of a fortnight Furness told his 
pupil he "could stay as long as he liked." What settled the 
matter was the boy's aptitude. Furness's "big-hearted" brother 

43 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

John, in charge of the staff, grew quite thoughtful when 
Louis begged to be taught "touch," and how to "indicate," and 
when, alert to the lessons, he retraced not only with speed, 
but with accuracy, a set of plans for a bank. The partner 
George Hewitt, a taciturn stalk of a man who could adapt 
from any style to please the most tasteless client, proved less 
inspiring than Furness; Louis afterward described the pro- 
ductions of Hewitt as "Victorian Gothic in pantalettes" 
not unlike Jayne's tower at its knee, over the way. 

The designs of the swaggering chief, Furness, though 
something more, comprehended little that promised more 
permanence. But about Furness at work the first thing to 
fascinate young Sullivan was that his employer was "a great 
freehand draughtsman." Part of this facility resulted from 
Furness's habit of passing his summers at Cape May, where, 
as Louis had already done to some extent with his mother at 
Cape Anne, he spent his leisure in copying seaweeds and 
flowers, out of which drawings he fashioned his designs in 
terra cotta. Furness insisted above all upon "individuality," 
a word which Louis a year earlier had adopted as his own 
shibboleth after gazing at the work of Richardson. 

Unfortunately the obsession of originality in Furness led 
him to create chimeras of architecture. He had just built the 
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Louis walked round it 
in the course of Sunday mornings in Fairmont Park. Granite, 
bronze, brick, it was a melange of verticals, intricate cornices, 
yawning arches, panels of divers figures in relief, a massive 
doorway like a cathedral, and great wings sweeping birdlike 
away from the entrance. Furness laid down his law that "a 
building should proclaim its use." This one seemed to pro- 
claim a zoo. If to Louis Sullivan at seventeen it appeared 
rather jubilantly "different," he imbibed from it at least a 
lesson in daring. Well might the pupil emulate the con- 
temptuous eagerness of his master to "break from tradition"; 

44 



THE BOY ARCHITECT 

but in this sort of freedom Furness was just sticking together 
a medley of the motives from which he was attempting to 
break. Was there not something better worth looking at in 
those accentuated verticals of the Jayne building, piers only 
slightly punctuated at the floor levels, in that lofty building 
which stared at Louis every day as he sat at his drawing-board 
across the street? The building was high; it stretched up, 
soared. Even the tall windows, each with a great cross in it 
holding two square panes above and two oblongs below, 
seemed to increase its height. The effect was not lost upon 
the apprentice vis-H-vis. 

Stifling though Philadelphia was in the summer, Louis, 
the zealous young draftsman, longing to study at night, per- 
haps conscious that he had left "Tech" before he knew what 
he was about, quitted the suburban roof of his relations as 
soon as he had come to know the streets, and in order to 
read he said in the libraries moved into a room in town. He 
was settling in agreeably when in September (1873) the 
great local banking-house of Jay Cooke failed. There was 
talk of a panic, a panic that might throttle the whole country. 
But financial confusion cannot unsettle, all at once, even a 
city in which it takes rise, and with Furness & Hewitt no 
mishap, for a while, befell their younger staff. 

One night George Hewitt for whom Louis coddled an 
aversion as a "bookworm," and "unoriginal" on his way 
home from a theater saw lights in the office. Imagining that 
someone had forgotten to turn the lights off, Hewitt went 
in. He discovered Louis bent double over his board, and 
tracing intricate Moorish ornaments from a Masonic Temple 
which Hewitt had designed years earlier. The rather un- 
sociable and intolerant junior partner remonstrated; he told 
the young assistant that he should have "asked permission," 
not only to stay in the office until such a late hour, but to 
rummage into the property of the firm. To this reproof Louis 

45 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

did not take kindly. Master and man went their separate ways 
in a mood less than amiable. 

On the next morning Hewitt found on his desk the written 
resignation of young Sullivan. 

It was now November. With the panic beginning to put its 
teeth into Philadelphia, and architecture harder bitten than 
most professions, it is likely that in any case Louis would have 
been dispensed with before long. But, offended because Hewitt 
had not appreciated the ambition of a novice to learn, young 
Mr. Sullivan chose his own time to depart. 



CHAPTER 



IAMILY REUNION 



T 

JLoc 



.OO YOUNG TO PROCEED TO PARIS, YET WITH NO 

prospect of other work in panicky Philadelphia, 
Louis could only make tracks for Chicago to rejoin 
his parents. What would they be like? What of his 
brother Albert, now a grown man of nineteen? 
What would their father, the "old gentleman," have 
to say to the fugitive Louis, the restless, the mis- 
chievous one, thrice run away, from his studies at 
"Boston Tech," again from the care of his grand- 
father, again from his work with Furness & Hewitt? 
About themselves, the Sullivans in Chicago were 
suffering no uneasiness. Patrick and Andrienne, in 
the four years since they had seen their wandering 
son, had after their modest beginning in Peck Court 
won a firm patronage; not even the Great Fire of 
1871 had checked the aspiration of Chicagoans to 
dance. As for young Albert, he had not exactly 

47 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

"gone into business," but was intently at work in the machine 
shops of the Illinois Central Railway, in which occupation he 
was finding opportunity to exercise his inherited flair for 
free-hand drawing. 

Into this state of family well-being Louis walked on 
Thanksgiving Eve. He need not have felt apprehensive. The 
boy had timed his arrival astutely, and he was given a welcome 
magnified by the spirit of the holiday. There was his father, 
bearded up to the cheekbones, yet crisply spoken through his 
bearded lips, and rather cocky over his success in the Middle 
West, but not at all harsh or unkind. His mother, still under 
forty, the little packet of French-German-Italian in one, was 
the artist unchanged, oblivious to everything but art, smiling, 
gentle, unpretentious, sure of herself. And Albert was now 
a young giant. He was taller than them all, prematurely 
adult, a well-knit man, alert, strapping, and full of serious 
purpose. They were really a family "to live up to." 

On the day afterward, the four reunited Sullivans cele- 
brated to the utmost of American tradition not only the 
festival of Thanksgiving, but the safe return of the itinerant 
youngest. 

The homecoming of Louis into the presence of kin so 
solidly to the fore inspired him to emulate their activity, and 
so to deserve, before too long, his crowning stretch of edu- 
cation at the Beaux Arts. Where should he now look for 
work? Chicago seemed to him a kaleidoscope of grain, timber, 
hogs, and railways, a wild place, yet somehow magnificent in 
its rawness, a waste of burnt ruins and ashes, yet with long 
lines of fresh building (mostly bad) on every hand. One firm 
of architects had built up a mile and a half of "front," another 
firm three miles, another five miles. The busier end of town 
was cluttered by raised wooden sidewalks, with steps at every 
corner. The pavements, relaid too fast, were soggy and full 
of ruts. But the renewed city was going ahead, and the 

48 



FAMILY REUNION 

spectacle of its energy seized the juvenile architect with 
eagerness to play a part in its designing. 

Panic in Eastern finance had slowed down the rebuilding 
somewhat, but not halted it, and indeed a few of the architects, 
to this critical eye of seventeen, appeared to have wrought 
to impressive purpose. Louis, having set forth as in Philadel- 
phia to stalk his quarry, soon came upon a building that in 
his seasoned judgment he deemed worth notice. It was of 
brick and sandstone, four stories, called the "Portland Block," 
and it was said to be the handiwork of a Major William Le 
Baron Jenney. His youthful approver tracked him down. 

If Jenney at a glance looked rather a Caliban, Louis 
found him as an interviewer more human than Furness. The 
Major as an engineer he had marched with Sherman through 
Georgia was stout, pop-eyed, with thick lips, a gourmet's 
fat jowls, and dizzily busy, like a squirrel. He was an epicure 
of game birds and sauces, of vintages and cheese. Louis, with 
a pianist's ear, thought Jenney's voice "ran up and down the 
scale." He was the kind who in an interview jovially keep 
an applicant on tenterhooks by delay in coming to the point. 
Like Richard Hunt, Jenney chattered away about student 
life in Paris, where he had attended the Ecole Polytechnique. 
But in the end the Major was glad to know that Louis had 
spent a year at "Boston Tech," and on that account accepted 
him as junior staff. Sullivan was assigned a stool next a young 
draftsman named Martin Roche. 

The foreman of the office was John Edelmann, a German- 
American only seven years older than Louis. To join Jenney, 
Edelmann, earlier in this same year, had left the firm of 
Burling, Adler & Co. He was muscular and shaggy, bearded 
and dishevelled, like a gold miner, a forty-niner. Loquacious, 
he talked indoors with an outdoor voice, loud and resonant; 
an egomaniac, he began his sentences with "I myself." He 
appeared to be very lazy, yet designed with great speed and 

49 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

with admirable results, talking learnedly all the time, for he 
was a scholar, voluminously read, a bit of a philosopher, and 
devoted to German music. 

By this odd fellow Louis Sullivan was spellbound, as by 
no man since he had sat at the feet of his English teacher, 
Moses Woolson. The foreman was at once self-centered and 
unselfish. He took Jenney's recruit in hand, seeing that there 
was much to be done to round the boy out. Nor was Edel- 
mann inclined ever to believe that one's career began and 
ended in the office. Discovering Louis' aptitude for music, 
he invited him on Sunday afternoons to concerts of Wagner, 
ably conducted by one Hans Balatka. (Sullivan later said 
that Wagner meant to him "the power of a man to build.") 
What the concerts really meant was that Edelmann reawak- 
ened the boy's inborn musical gifts, which had lain dormant 
since he had left John Tompson three years past. 

No unbending disciplinarian was Edelmann; he enjoyed 
a "recess" with his staff (four besides Louis) whenever the 
Major was absent. Unlike the staid office of Furness & Hewitt, 
the drafting-room of Jenney, without Jenney, broke into 
Bedlam, Chicago-fashion. Edelmann mounted his drawing- 
board to arouse his men with a comic political speech, while 
Louis sang songs from the oratorios to shake the walls, and 
Roche and the others banged accompaniment with T-squares. 
But they always divined the approach of the Major from 
afar, whereat the suddenness of the silence was exceeded only 
by the dexterity with which the crew recaptured their pencils 
and compasses. 

Again, when the spring of 1874 came round, Edelmann 
saw to it that Louis should keep fit by outdoor exercise. The 
foreman, though not a very agile athlete "himself," was a 
member of a little rowing and running club called Lotus 
Place, on the Calumet River, about 15 miles south of Chicago. 
Members slept in boathouses at week ends, and for recreation 



FAMILY REUNION 

competed in aquatic, track and field sports. Louis upon 
invitation joined the circle. 

The founder of the club was William Curtis, now thirty- 
seven, a champion athlete and gymnast who for twenty years 
had engaged in systematic exercises to ward off tuberculosis, 
a malady of his family. A handsome heavily-bearded figure 
with great deep-set eyes, he was known as "the strongest man 
in the world," could lift half a ton with hands and a ton and a 
half in harness, and although middle-aged he competed in 
sprints and in rowing on even terms with youth fifteen years 
his junior. Purely an amateur, he had won dozens of medals, 
and had already organized half a dozen athletic clubs in both 
Chicago and New York. 

Edelmann introduced Louis to Curtis, whom the members 
called "Father Bill." And Louis, conscious of some physical 
prowess of his own, spontaneously grew as excited over 
athletics as he had done over architecture. He appears to 
have run home to fetch his brother "Al," no mean performer 
in feats of strength, as another candidate for the Lotus. Thus 
it was that the Sullivan brothers, at eighteen and twenty, 
joined the outdoors. 

Usually five to eight men competed at the Lotus, none of 
them being engaged in architecture except Edelmann and 
Louis, although Curtis had for a time practiced as an architect 
and civil engineer in New York. Of the others, young "busi- 
ness men," only the names remain: C. A. Billings, "Charley" 
Downs and his younger brother, C. J. Williams who was "in 
wholesale groceries," and men called Barnard and Wiley. The 
most popular events, apart from rowing and the sculls, were 
the no-yard dash, the quarter-mile run, the twelve- and 
sixteen-pound shotput, the fifty-six-pound weight, and the 
seven-, twelve-, and sixteen-pound hammer-throw. 

Curtis, old as he was, could beat them all in the dash, in 
the "fifty-six," and in the lighter hammers. But Albert 



LOUIS SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

Sullivan proved the ablest athlete all-round, taking first or 
second in all the weights, and second or third in the dashes. 
He was a rangy young man now, not only taller than his 
brother, but heavier and more adroit, keen of eye, a serious 
sportsman with great power of concentration upon form, 
poise, and the calculated use of his stamina. 

It chagrined Louis, who in any of the events usually had 
to be content with third or fourth place, to see how con- 
sistently "AT beat him. But the elder brother had been 
quietly running, and hurling weights, ever since the Sullivans 
moved to Chicago, whereas Louis' athletics, although de- 
veloped a little at "Boston Tech," had languished for nearly 
a year. Even so, he could outrun half of the other members, 
and if Charley Downs once bested him in the no, Louis 
consoled himself with the thought that his own time of 13.5 
seconds was not a bad performance. An experienced and 
stalwart contestant like Edelmann, for example, generally 
trailed the lot. He never wanted to stop talking long enough 
to put his mind on games of brawn, and Albert Sullivan, who 
grew as deadly earnest over these sports as their Herculean 
leader, Curtis, tended to scoff at Edelmann's ineffectual 
"training." 

The season at Lotus Place ordinarily continued until 
snowfall, in late November. But Louis allowed none of this 
excitement, not to mention his pupilage in Jenney's office, 
to swerve him from his fixed ambition of studying at the 
Beaux Arts, the "fountainhead." He had heard too much of 
the glory of France from his father, from Minnie Whittlesey, 
from Woolson, from Letang, from Richard Hunt, perhaps 
above all from that nimble gourmet and boulevardier, Major 
Jenney, to be ever deterred. 

Early in July, he resigned his post with the Major; from 
John Edelmann, exemplar and benefactor, he took what he 
vowed would be only interim leave. Bidding good-bye to 

5* 



FAMILY REUNION 



his family, who all along had encouraged him to fulfill his 
hopes, Louis travelled alone to New York, and alone he 
embarked for Liverpool on his way to Paris. 



53 



CHAPTER 



o 



NE TERM FOR PARIS 



T 

JL.H1 



.HE IMPRESSION, AS OF THE GIVEN MOMENT, 

left upon the boy Louis Sullivan by a fortnight in 
England is not easy to plumb. Years afterward he 
said that what he noticed between Liverpool and 
London, as a lad of eighteen, were "the solidity of 
the roadbed, the soundness of the country-roads a 
finished and sturdy land." It is likelier, however, 
that Louis was then more conscious of Euston 
Station, "its roof so heavy that he feared it would 
fall down upon him." He "thrilled" to Big Ben; he 
was astonished at "the brilliance of the demi-monde 
in the music-halls." But he was quite alarmed at the 
"shoals of wretches" in the Haymarket, "many 
fingers clutching at his sleeve." "Does Big Ben," he 
asked, "boom in pride for these?" He walked from 
Rotten Row to the Thames Embankment; he 
shopped, and resented the rudeness of the shop 

54 



ONE TERM FOR PARIS 

assistants; he was everywhere struck by the "massive oldness 
of London." But he apparently observed no building, new or 
old, that as a work of architecture fetched his admiration. 
And after his two desultory weeks he crossed, nothing loath, 
to France. 

Attired in a flannel suit, white cap, and white canvas shoes, 
as it were carrying Chicago with him, or at least Lotus Place, 
Louis must have seemed even to Paris rather an oddity. Some- 
one had told him to call at the American Legation, whose 
staff "knew all about" the Beaux Arts. The diplomats drew 
up for their compatriot a list of books to buy; it included a 
treatise on that dizzy offshoot of mathematics called Descrip- 
tive Geometry, ordinarily taught to neophytes in engineering. 

He then set out in search of lodgings on the Left Bank. 
An address that was suggested to him, a pension popular with 
art students, could be found at a corner of the Rue Racine 
and Rue Monsieur-le-Prince, a short block from the Palace 
de rOdeon. Proceeding thither, Louis came upon a seven- 
story house of the pale yellow-gray common to all quarters 
of Paris. It had a mansard roof, slated; its tall windows were 
fitted with blinds, and a little wrought-iron enclosure adorned 
the bottom of each window, except at the sixth floor, round 
which ran an iron-railed balcony. The corner of this house 
was sliced off diagonally to afford entrance to a shop, while 
the door for lodgers opened off Rue Racine. 

Young M. Sullivan found upon inquiry that for about five 
francs a day he could rent a room on the top floor. He could 
have cafe complet brought up; on the ground floor he could 
dine cheaply with the twenty-odd other locataires. The land- 
lord then led him up six long and dizzily winding flights of 
stairs. At the top the offering was a coop of a room, no 
larger taan three yards by three and a half, and furnished 
with a cot, a table, and a chair. The roof slanted down; let 
into it, a small square lid on a hinge made the only window. 

55 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

But from this one opening, as the proprietor lyrically pointed 
out, Louis could see the Louvre, Notre Dame, Tour St. 
Jacques, the spire of Sainte-Chapelle, the rounded green roof 
of the Opera, and Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre. Why boggle 
at the fittings of a room, or even at the hundred and fourteen 
steps to gain it, when it gave upon such a panorama of 
enchanting landmarks? And there was another consideration: 
if the Beaux Arts was a mile away, the Jardin du Luxembourg 
in all its greenery lay just round the corner. 

Louis' next concern was to engage tutors in mathematics 
and in French, men who could within six weeks fit him for 
the September examinations of the Ecole. One M. Clopet, 
recommended to him in mathematics, thumbed over the boy's 
textbook of Descriptive Geometry. "All these problems," 
remarked the tutor, "are full of exceptions. Throw the book 
away. Our demonstrations have no exceptions." 

The awed yet curiously elated pupil did as bidden. He 
joined a class of about twenty, among whom there were no 
Englishmen, nor any other Americans. 

In civilized Continental style Clopet on the first day set 
both the pace and the relaxation. He taught at high speed; 
but at the end of each half hour he declared a recess, and 
rolled a cigarette. 

Louis, to burnish the French in which he already possessed 
fair fluency, warily tested three teachers before he got the 
man he wanted. In the end he pitched upon a "candidate" 
whose sense of humor was so billowy that he could engulf a 
pupil in the language. Sullivan, in retrospect doubtless ac- 
curate, said this tutor "looked on life as a huge joke, on all 
persons as jokes, and on Louis himself as a frantic joke." The 
man was a talented mimic, a bon esprit, and he "spread out 
the French language like a landscape." Never before, of 
course, had the unbaked American boy known what the 
art of conversation meant. For an hour every day the tutor 

56 



ONE TERM FOR PARIS 

expanded a topic, an incident, a bit of history, into a conversa- 
tional essay. With such a man, a foreign pupil need no longer 
be hampered even by thinking in his native tongue. 

Naturally one aspect of Louis that limned him as a "frantic 
joke" was his costume, which his tutor thought uproarious. 
"Only sporting people," he trilled, "wear such clothes and 
shoes. Only working classes wear the casquette; gentlemen 
wear the chapeau" In a matter of days Louis blossomed forth 
in morning coat and top hat, dark trousers, polished shoes, 
gloves, stick, and with a beard earnestly begun. He had 
learned, for life, how to dress, even as that Boston architect 
who had emerged, so many years before, from the house in 
Commonwealth Avenue. 

The little table in his cell of a room in the Rue Racine 
bore a candle at either end. Far into the night, drinking pots 
of black coffee like Balzac, and in a turban of damp towel 
like Sidney Carton, this eager pupil pored over his French 
verbs, read his volumes of European history, wrote up his 
mathematical notes from the exacting Clopet. In all, he 
thought he worked eighteen hours in the twenty-four. Nor 
did he realize that his own schooling of the past ten years, 
patchy, intermittent, superficial, had necessitated the strain 
to which he now subjected himself. In Boston he had ignored 
discipline, mistaking his aptitude for knowledge. Now the 
telescoped pressure proved too heavy, even for a sturdy and 
athletic constitution of eighteen; three weeks of this over- 
taxing had blurred his memory; he had to take a recuperative 
half-week off in the country. 

When the date approached for his examinations he was 
wiser. Like an Oxonian, Louis stopped all work three days 
before. He wandered round Paris. The capital of the world 
did not seem old to him; it struck him more like "self-renew- 
ing youth." Without question the marvelous freshness and 
spirit of the city reinvigorated his tired mind, with the result 

57 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

that Louis at the appointed time was able to face his examiners 
unquavering. 

The tutor Clopet had drilled his charge well. At the close 
of an hour of mathematics, the judgment of the inquisitor, 
if dry, made the young candidate tingle with joy. "You have 
the mathematical imagination, which is rather rare." 

Louis then sat for tests in drawing, both freehand and 
mechanical, as well as for a sketch en loge of a simple archi- 
tectural project. In these also he performed with credit. 

But the examination in history presumed a capability 
unapproached anywhere in America: it demanded that the 
candidate discuss three questions, orally, each for half an 
hour. "Be kind enough," said the examiner, "to tell me the 
story of the Hebrew people." Louis dilated upon the "person- 
ality" of Jehovah. To this, no exception was taken; it seemed 
acceptable. "I should like an account," the man resumed, "of 
ten emperors of Rome." His candidate at least took a point 
of view, objecting to a civilization "based on force." Without 
requiring Louis to define his terms, but noting that he was 
given to "making word-pictures," the examiner let him for 
the third question describe the times of Francis I. With 
alacrity, and some degree of tact for his years, Louis stressed 
the artistic part in that king's reign played by Leonardo da 
Vinci. 

"The object of these examinations," commented the 
scholarly judge at the end, "is to measure intelligence, and 
the capacity for interpretation and for constructive imagina- 
tion. In the last you are vivid, and rash. After some years, 
you will begin to understand a little." He passed the candidate. 

Louis was then fortunate enough to be admitted (probably 
by request) to the atelier of Emile Vaudremer, teacher of 
Eugene Letang, the young assistant to Professor Ware at 
"Boston Tech." Vaudremer, in the flood of his achievement 
at forty-five, was known as the designer in modernized 

58 



ONE TERM FOR PARIS 

Byzantine of the Church of St. Pierre de Montrouge. Young 
Sullivan doubly rejoiced. To his parents in Chicago he wrote 
with excusable pride the tidings of what he had accomplished. 

The atelier of Vaudremer in the Rue du Bac was not far 
from the Beaux Arts. Access to it ran through a passage 
guarded by a concierge to a courtyard, and its ground floor, 
rough as a carpenter's shop, provided for twenty students. 
Louis found Vaudremer a dark man of middle height, with 
a fine aplomb, calm but magnetic, a man whose students held 
him in both awe and affection. Of every member newly 
arrived he required a "twenty-four-hour sketch," as a brief 
to be expanded. 

When the master criticized the briefs, as Louis straightway 
grew aware, he was "clear, clean-cut, constructive, personal." 
Sympathetic with pupils as young as Sullivan, Vaudremer 
made himself plain as an upholder of discipline. He allowed 
a pupil three months in which to carry out the project 
briefed. And although much of this work could be done away 
from the atelier, the pupil rightly sensed that his job had to 
be delivered as and when required. This was the task upon 
which Louis entered on September 28. He wrote all about it 
to his brother "AL" 

There was the usual badinage in the studio, the usual 
fagging imposed upon the younger members. But Louis' 
gay-witted teacher of French, as efficient in his vivacity as 
Clopet in his precision, had not neglected to arm his American 
pupil with French slang, which before long enabled him to 
avoid both the carrying of fuel and the cleaning of drawing- 
boards. He made companions of a young Irishman, Tom 
Healy, and of a clever French student, Louis Millet, both of 
whom excelled in freehand. 

With them, in the lengthening autumn nights, young 
Sullivan sallied forth upon many an adventure round the 
Quartier, at which time he is said to have observed no such 

59 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

aloofness from the grisettes as had governed him in the case 
of the demi-mondes of London. He took a look at the can- 
can. And he came to prefer participating in its whirls rather 
than watching them from a table alongside. 

Indeed life beyond the scrutiny of M. Vandremer began 
to develop more allurement than slogging away in the atelier, 
an ill-heated room, grimy, draughty, and littered. Such work 
as Louis could get on with at his lodgings he did, though too 
often with the aid of strong coffee at untimely hours, the 
overdose of which prior to his examinations he kept repeating, 
and it curtailed his sleep. 

But how the boy could draw! The grace, the sureness, 
the symmetry in his designs reached back not merely to a 
table in Jenney's office, not only as far as the crotchety Frank 
Fiirness, or to the exhortings of Eugene Letang; those qualities 
had crystallized out of the practice of at least ten years, prac- 
tice begun by aping the skill of Andrienne Sullivan through 
the long summer days at Folly Cove. Part of Louis' "project" 
for Vaudremer, now, was to decorate a room. By late Novem- 
ber, the 2 pth, the pupil had arrived at the ceiling of it. 
"Fresco-border on ceiling," he entitled this sheet, "to corre- 
spond with centrepiece and frieze." 

The design was so original that no words could picture it. 
Certain of its contours suggested at once a three-leaf clover, 
a cross-section of a mushroom, an open parasol. But the main 
spread of the expanse, even to the little tips curving outward 
at the bottom, recalled rather "the tiger-moth's deep-dam- 
asked wings," shaded, ornamented, vibrant with life, and 
crying out for the colors that reside in nature. On the other 
hand, for the middle, the stem of the design, Sullivan adapted 
the motives of stamen and pistil. The conception as a whole 
was an astonishing blend of flora and fauna without looking 
in the least unnatural. If Vaudremer sought pupils bold with 
imagination, he had found one in Louis Sullivan. 



ONE TERM FOR PARIS 

Thanksgiving Day having now come and gone, and been 
for the moment overlooked by Louis, he decided, together 
with a "friend/* to atone for his neglect of the holiday by 
attending a costume ball on the first Saturday night in 
December. This frolic was the kind at which the Left Bank 
makes a night of it. The adventure rather flattened out the 
young American; he caught a heavy cold. Nor did he regain 
any desire to step outdoors again before the Monday after- 
noon. There was a vacant hour or two; this interval he 
determined to allot, for the benefit of his brother, to recount- 
ing his escapade: 

Paris, Dec. yth, 1874. 
Dear Al: 

I have arisen from my peaceful couch too late this morn- 
ing to make it worth while to go to the atelier before break- 
fast, or rather dinner, as you would call it at home, as it 
comes about noon; so I might just as well [fill] the spare 
time by writing you a little letter. 

Saturday night I went with a friend to the first masquer- 
ade ball of the season. It did not let out until 4.30 a.m., and 
then we went and took supper, getting home about seven 
o'clock yesterday morning. This bust was to celebrate 
Thanksgiving Day, which we had forgotten, and was quite 
an enjoyable affair. Only about half the people present wore 
costumes; but they were as grotesque and outlandish as could 
be imagined, and to see them dance the can-can in such rigs 
was very appropriate and exceeding amusing. The can-can 
in costume is as good as a play; but in ordinary clothes it 
is simply disgusting, as I may have told you before. 

Sunday (yesterday) I slept from seven in the morning 
till 4.30 in the afternoon, so that it is the only day in my 
life that I didn't see daylight. It was very funny; when I went 
to bed the street lamps were burning, and when I got up 
they were burning, so that it really seemed like one awfully 
long night. (That word "awfully" slipped out before I knew 
it. I have got into the habit of using it a great deal, in a 
facetious kind of way). 

61 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

We are having the God damnedest kind of weather here 
that can be imagined cold, wet, and chilly. I have caught a 
hard cold on my lungs, and have got the diarrhoea so that 
it takes all my strength away; and as you can imagine, the 
way I am cussing and swearing is enough to make hell shiver. 
I have just bought an overcoat about an inch thick; but I 
can hardly keep warm even in that. 

I am crawling along slowly at the atelier. It is the 
damnedest pigstie I ever got into. First it's cold, and then 
when you light the fire it smokes so that it nearly puts your 
eyes out, and you have to open the windows, which makes 
a devil of a draft, which is not to be recommended for people 
with a cold. I am working along steadily on my project, 
which is to be finished the 2 8th inst. I shall begin on the 
[remainder] of my plan tomorrow; it is to cover two sheets 
of "double-capping." 

I am much obliged to you for sending me a review of the 
"season" [at Lotus Place], which interested me very much. 
I congratulate you on your remarkable progress, even if you 
did get beaten at New York [Athletic Club]; and I hope 
that next year you will clean them all out. When I get back 
to Chicago I shall make it my business to see how closely 
I can press you in the no yds., for I can't stand having you 
beat me by 6 yds., though when I ran Charley Downs I 
certainly did not do my best, for I thought he was playing 
with me, and so I did not let myself entirely out. But the 
chances are that by the time I get back to Chicago (and it 
won't be for some time, you bet), I won't be able to run 
[no yds.] in 15. Still my legs are keeping in very fair con- 
dition, and are yet quite hard. When you write, send me 
a good long letter, and keep me well posted in athletic and 
general news. 

What sort of a time did you have Thanksgiving, any- 
thing like the Thanksgiving of 1 873, my first day in Chicago? 

My congratulations to Bill [Curtis] on his success, and 
tell him that I hope on my return to find him the possessor 
of the "Diamond Sculls." 

John [Edelmann] certainly did not make a very brilliant 
showing in the athletic line; but his progress in Architec- 
ture has filled me with satisfaction and delight. But never- 



ONE TERM FOR PARIS 

theless, John is going to make a good oarsman one of these 
days; you see if he doesn't I judge you and he must have 
had some little fuss, by the supercilious tone of your remarks* 
If such is the case, you ought to get over it, for he is one 
of the smartest and most honourable boys I have ever met, 
and you can make up your mind that my reputation as an 
architect will always be inferior to his. 

I received mother and father's letters Saturday and will 
answer them as soon as possible. The old gentleman seems 
to be rather pleased at my success at the examinations, and 
well he may be, Great God! It makes me weak to think 
of them. 

My love to the family triangle, and don't forget that way 
over in this quarter of creation there exists a brother who 

calls himself , . __ ... 

Louis H. Sullivan. 

For all the discomfort of the atelier, he was enjoying 
bohemian life, with no thought of terminating it "for some 
time." Paris was not all books and candles, pencils and 
projects. Many a night did Louis go rollicking round Mont- 
parnasse with his friends Millet and Healy. But by day he also 
visited the monuments, the palaces, the museums; and never, 
since he had first arrived, had he missed an architectural 
exhibition. 

On the other hand, his athletics now stood in abeyance. 
He was avidly looking forward to competing once more at 
Lotus Place against his brother, Downs, Father Bill, and the 
less formidable Edelmamx. But games were the least part of 
such a character as Edelmann. Though at twenty-four he 
had been to Louis, at seventeen, a boy, rather than a senior 
colleague to whose order in Jenney's office Louis had been 
subject, the influence of Edelmann, both as a promising 
architect and as a stanch and learned friend, was holding 
firm. It was to no less a friend than John Edelmann, indeed, 
that Louis "dedicated" his elaborate drawing of the fresco 
border which he had finished at the end of November. 

63 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

During the month immediately subsequent to the writing 
of that letter to Albert Sullivan, so speedy a draftsman as 
Louis may well have finished his project, perhaps discoursed 
upon it, defended it before M. Vaudremer and the students 
assembled. At all events he straightway began to read Taine 
on art. This reading, at this date, January 1875, is attested 
in a note (hitherto undisclosed) in his hand, which lists the 
first volume then read as Taine's Philosophic de PArt. This 
he quickly followed with Taine's separate essay on the phi- 
losophy of art in Italy. (Not only had Moses Woolson long 
since recommended Taine on English Literature, but Louis 
now aspired to the philosophic range of reasoning which he 
had noticed underlay so much of the intellectuality of John 
Edelmann.) Through January he continued with Taine's 
works on the philosophy of art in Greece, and in the Pays-Bas; 
and he finished out this month devoted to Taine with Uldeal 
dans PArt. 

Then for the time being Louis put aside Taine, and for 
February took up straight history, the three volumes of Rene 
Menard (Histoire de PArt Antique, au Moyen Age, and 
Moderne), the painter who in the manner of Poussin depicted 
classical themes in a landscape setting. Thus the young reader 
gained another point of view, a painter's, to compare with 
a critic's. 

But it was upon Hippolyte Taine that Louis kept meditat- 
ing. Taine contended that Michelangelo had "obviously" 
painted the "Last Judgment," on the end-wall above the 
altar of the Sistine Chapel, on momentum, rather than with 
the unhurried vigor evident in the earlier and nobler frescoes 
of the ceiling. Sullivan's constitutional restlessness overcame 
him once more: here was his excuse to get away from the 
"damned pigsty" of an atelier; nothing would do but a 
journey to Rome, to see for himself whether Taine's criticism 
of the "Last Judgment" was well taken. 

64 



ONE TERM FOR PARIS 

After February 1875 there is a break in the reading list of 
the young Sullivan. Apparently it was late in February that 
he chose to quit the Beaux Arts, for a visit to the Sistine 
Chapel, even for an indefinite stay in Italy. Long after- 
ward, he spoke of this defection as if it had occurred a year 
later than it did; he seems not to have been proud, in 
retrospect, of having failed to persevere at the Ecole much 
beyond one full term. In fact, he was unable to submit to 
the discipline of Emile Vaudremer even as long as he had 
accepted that of Professor Ware. 

Arrived in Rome, he spent two whole days in the Vatican, 
in the Sistine Chapel alone, and "communed." There was 
the "Judgment" on the wall, and there were the sibyls and 
the prophets on the ceiling. Louis gazed aloft to the exhaus- 
tion of his neck, then relieved the ache by walking to the 
end-wall to compare. Then he strode back to the hard pew 
for another skyward look. But it was his imagination that he 
truly exercised, as never before. Michelangelo had completed 
the colossal, the multitudinous, the enthralling "Last Judg- 
ment" when he was sixty-six; such power in old age was 
itself a revelation, giving courage. But Louis allowed that 
Taine was right. The boy found himself singling out, for 
prolonged inspection, a figure between two of the prophets 
on the ceiling. It was the Persian sibyl. In after years, casting 
his mind back upon this fresco which had so fascinated him, 
he described it as "imagination beyond reason, consummated 
instinct." The "Last Judgment" was perhaps the most famous 
separate picture in the world; but the frescoes were "primal 
inspiration." 

Louis tarried in Rome hardly longer than a week. Her 
museums, her ancient monuments, her relics of the Popes, 
did not as architecture so much engross him. It was Michel- 
angelo whom he called "the first mighty craftsman." Retrac- 
ing his steps northward about the beginning of March, he 

65 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

stopped in Florence, where amid all the other riches of 
medieval days he could study more of Michelangelo. Here he 
did linger, for six weeks. The best of guidebooks, Taine and 
Menard, he already carried in his head, men who illuminated 
what the wanderer was seeing day by day. But it was in 
Taine that Louis had found a line, one line above all, which 
he memorized: "The art of a people is a direct expression of 
their life, and one must become well acquainted with that 
life in order to see into its art." 

Who shall say that this pilgrimage in self-education did 
not develop Louis Sullivan, as an imaginative architect, more 
outwardly than uninterrupted work upon another "project" 
would have done in the "carpenter's shop" of Vaudremer? 
Italy, without teaching, had yet taught so much. Louis was 
inquisitive; but he had stayed long enough in one place to 
enable him to answer a good many of his own questions. 

From Florence the young truant truant now as when a 
schoolboy journeyed on along the Riviera. He took in the 
shore at a glance: "crags indenting the water, solid blue sky, 
solid blue sea." It was the examiner at the Beaux Arts, of 
course, who had said, "You have a faculty of making 
word-pictures." 

He appears to have returned to Paris, and to the atelier, a 
little before mid-April. At any rate he dated a drawing, also 
dedicated to John Edelmann, as done in Paris on April 17, 
1875. It was a centerpiece in fresco. The design, in its own 
center, was an eight-petalled flower, the petals in form 
resembling those of a daisy; but Sullivan extended each petal 
into a thistle, and each thistle he elongated, at its outer edges, 
with lines like the antennae of a butterfly. Yet he drew none 
of these components quite like the daisy, the thistle, the 
butterfly. Louis either simplified or elaborated each one as 
his own imagination prompted him to do, with the result 
that the completed design appeared to be not a hybrid, nor 



ONE TERM FOR PARIS 

a monstrosity, but an original work impressive from its 
symmetry, its daring, and its decorative virtues. How much 
of this scheme Vaudremer may have suggested to him, or 
even approved, it is impossible to guess; but the drawing 
betrayed the touch of unmistakable individuality. If one 
should attempt to trace the source of Louis Sullivan's love 
of flowers, it would lead rather to the gifted hand of his 
mother. 

Back at his little table and candles in the Rue Racine, the 
young man knew that the ultimate of papal art in Rome, and 
the zenith of the Middle Ages in Florence, had confirmed his 
aversion to the Ecole. Its iteration of "projects," however 
sound in its didactic way, repelled him. His reading, resumed 
after the break incident to his absence from Paris, reflected 
a distraction from his primary study. While he turned the 
pages of an anonymous volume called Les Merveilles de 
F Architecture, the books he read were of music, his second 
star; the Vie de Beethoven, by Madame Audley, and another 
book worth knowing for the personality of its author alone, 
La Musique en Allemagne, etude sur Mendelssohn, by Camille 
Selden (Elise von Krienitz). Heinrich Heine had called her 
"Die Mouche," sworn a "mystic passion" for her; Elise in- 
spired his finest poems, and had brightened his last stricken 
months. 

As for Louis' pursuit of architecture, he had no doubt 
gained in speed and facility, dexterity, die magic of the curved 
line; yet he knew before he came to Paris that these pro- 
ficiencies were burgeoning. The atmosphere of the Beaux 
Arts, he granted in later recollection, was "international, 
aesthetic, orderly"; but he perceived beneath it "a residuum 
of artificiality." Anyone who looked at that church designed 
by Vaudremer (effective teacher though the man was), the 
Church of St. Pierre, Byzantium in Paris, its top-heavy tower, 
its cumbersome portals, a fajade alien for all its impressive- 

67 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

ness, could comprehend, perhaps, one reason why young 
Sullivan recoiled. 

Within a week or two after his return to Paris from 
Florence, hardly more than enough time to pack up and make 
his adieux, Louis departed for America. Probably no American 
architect who had studied at the Beaux Arts had ever given 
that mecca such short shrift; few of them would ever admit, 
probably, that Louis' single project, there completed, con- 
stituted sufficient training to point him in the way in which 
he should go. Yet he himself felt confident, ready to settle into 
his career. He preferred to continue his apprenticeship, if 
such it must still be, at the more intimate elbow of John 
Edelmann. 



68 



CHAPTER 



HE NOTEBOOK AT THE BOATHOUSE 



T 

AH; 



.HE COMING OF SPRING WAS NO DOUBT A 

propitious time for Louis Sullivan to tread once 
more his native soil, the ground from which he 
drew strength like Antaeus. He later said he reached 
Chicago at the equinox; the date was fully a month 
thereafter. He noted that the leaves had opened, 
and that the birds were building if not the archi- 
tects. The year was 1875. And the "season" at 
Lotus Place, with its merry hours in the boathouses, 
its rowing and running, its wrestling, its hurdling, 
its field sports, all this was about to begin. 

His parents, no longer in Peck Court, now 
occupied a house at 85 Twenty-third Street, while 
round the corner, at 159 Twenty-second Street, 
they conducted a "studio." In the rearising Chi- 
cago Patrick Sullivan, notwithstanding what his 
son called an "excessive Irish face," had by dint 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

of ambition and determination established himself, with no 
mean auxiliary in the person of his young, winsome and 
musical wife. Patrick was now fifty-seven, Andrienne forty. 
Sagaciously, too, had the dancing-master located his studio; 
near it stood Dearborn Seminary, a "fashionable school for 
girls." The Sullivans knew how to attract patronage, thus 
how to uphold a standard of living which set an example to 
their sons. 

The elder one, Albert, was causing them no apprehension. 
He was in this year promoted by his railway to be mechanical 
draftsman. Those early lessons from his mother in drawing, 
though followed up in a channel less artistic than that 
followed by Louis, had in adult practice proved their worth. 
He was now taking lessons of another sort. Conscious of his 
limited formal education, but ambitious to fill the gaps in it, 
Albert attended night school. One of the courses he elected 
was "public-speaking." (He expected to be called upon one 
day to address audiences of railwaymen) . But his Irish humor 
prevented him from regarding this instruction too gravely; 
to the amusement of his family circle he mimicked his teacher, 
gestures, grimaces, inflections, and all the forensic tricks. As 
himself, however, Albert was now an arresting figure. Military 
in height and bearing, he wore a clipped moustache, dressed 
well, spoke with decision in a low-pitched voice, and walked 
as if on parade. 

Louis upon rejoining this diligent family triad again made 
up his mind not to be outdone. Had he too impatiently 
curtailed his study at the Beaux Arts? Had his short experience 
at such a long distance justified its cost to his parents? He was 
now obliged to demonstrate that in saving them still further 
expense he had acted wisely. Lodging at home, he once more 
had to rise to his surroundings, a neighborhood by which 
the Sullivans were measuring their own standard. 

Next to coming back to his family, Louis' most critical 

70 



THE NOTEBOOK AT THE BOATHOXJSE 

renewal of fellowship was with the brawny and breezy John 
Edelmann. Him he now found in practice on his own, at 
144 Dearborn Street. Edelmann had left Major Jenney whilst 
Louis was in Paris, and had joined partnership with Joseph 
Johnston, an architect who was attracting attention by his 
introduction of structural tile into buildings against another 
conflagration in Chicago. The firm of Johnston & Edelmann, 
being a young firm, supported only a small staff, in "Room 
20." Louis' friend and "pilot" could at present give him no 
work, but was full of heartening hints about offices worth 
a call, places that might offer temporary jobs valuable for 
the practice to be gained. 

Although architecture in Chicago still lagged from both 
fire and financial slump, Louis made diligent reconnaissance 
of the town. He walked miles every day, called at many an 
architect's office, and was at length able to obtain brief 
engagements on single pieces of work, rather like an itinerant 
laborer who harvests at a series of farms. Proud, sure of his 
talent, conscious of his varied training, he looked down upon 
most of the staff he encountered here and there as "graduate 
carpenters." They in turn scoffed at his "Paris education," 
and if of English extraction, however obscure themselves, 
they called him "that Irishman," as his designation would 
have been "that Dutchman" if his name had been German. 
But above all, in their view, it was their duty to denounce 
young Sullivan for "having ideas." These luminaries envied 
the speed of this lad of eighteen at the drawing-board. 

However, with one of the younger architects, Frederick 
Baumann, who was not a member of a firm, Louis found 
Continental affinity, since Baumann had studied in Germany. 
He was humorous in a diabolical way, and "laughed like a 
goat." After hours, of an evening, the boulevardiers went out 
together, and as Baumann was respected his pamphlet The 
Theory of Isolated Pier Foundations had lately (1873) been 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

adopted by the prof ession this friendliness fostered the matur- 
ity of the young assistant* 

It was perhaps owing to Baumann that Louis, in his 
private reading during these not fully occupied weeks of 
spring, himself turned to humor. And as if to celebrate his 
repatriation he left off French literature and took up Ameri- 
can: much of Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Lowell's Bigeloiv 
Papers, and two or three volumes by the eccentric journalist 
"Petroleum V. Nasby." 

Some of this reading, it is true, may have been equally due 
to the influence of Edelmann who was also very fond of 
Bret Harte. The earliest evidence of the renewal of friendship 
between Louis and Edelmann, outside an architectural office, 
is in July. At Lotus Place, Edelmann took his returned 
companion in hand with regard both to reading and to draw- 
ing. The traces of their association, with a good deal more, 
are preserved in no less spacious a volume than the bulky 
and durable old notebook, entitled "Records/* which Louis 
had so doughtily begun to use at "Boston Tech," only to cast 
it aside in weariness, one-tenth filled. 

Obviously Louis carried this book down to Edelmann's 
boathouse, on the Calumet River, and kept it there. Of the 
twenty-two pages of notes which he appears to have written 
up from Ware's lectures, he tore out all but the first two, as 
if to retain a relic, but no more. And now Edelmann replaced 
both Ware and Vaudremer as the teacher of the juvenile 
architect, the first and last teacherprofessionally speaking 
in whom Louis Sullivan really believed. 

On July 7, 1875 Edelmann, a rather erratic athlete who 
was "not tall, but overmuscled," and who was yet known 
for "feats of strength," took time between contests at the 
Lotus to sketch in this notebook, freehand, a "design for a 
suburban church for Englewood" (Ohio), with details of its 
belfry, a huge rose window, and a "mass" drawing of an 



THE NOTEBOOK AT THE BOATHOXJSB 

arcade, the capitals original, but adapted from the Byzantine. 
Louis, as if acting upon a hint from Edelmann, followed on 
August 5 with an analysis of a lotus bud, carefully counting 
and numbering its sepals, petals, stamens, and pistils, then 
comparing these totals with those of a water-lily. Of the 
lotus, he made a drawing "before fructification," with a 
section which showed the "position and structure of ovaries," 
and another drawing of its "cellular structure." He was 
evidently offering, already, his views of possible decoration 
for capitals, or other architectural ornament. 

Such exercises, of course, took place at odd hours between 
the games, the physical exercise, to which the dub was 
mainly devoted. But Edelmann wanted to make the Lotus 
something more: his aim was education during recreation. He 
wrote in the same book "Catalogue of the Library," with 
himself, Sullivan and his brother, and one or two others as 
"directors." Edelmann divided the books, of which to begin 
with there were only about twenty, under four headings: 
poetry, fiction, science, and miscellaneous. His poets declined 
from Spenser to Longfellow. With unconscious humor he 
grouped under fiction Worcester's Elements of History and 
Depping and Russel's Wonders of Bodily Strength; but Don 
Quixote and Vanity Fair helped retrieve the position. Science 
claimed Herbert Spencer, Tyndall, and Jevons. From this 
lot, Louis noted his reading of the Poems of Bret Harte, 
while Albert Sullivan, who "wasted" no time on imaginative 
literature, chose the Depping and Russel, and TyndalPs 
Forms of Water. Bearing on athletics, however, it should be 
said that both brothers read in August, among books not 
listed by Edelmann, James Parton on Smoking and Drinking) 
and M. C. Tyler's Brownvitte Papers, essays on physical 
culture. 

But Edelmann abandoned his "cataloguing" after these 
first entries. For his own part, he always preferred talking to 

73 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

reading; he was mercilessly given to turning on the tap of 
his "overflowing vocabulary." Louis listened to the oracle^ 
some of whose "speculations," very likely at the boy's request, 
went into the notebook in Edelmann's hand. The question of 
art in America, for example, was the thing that Louis dreamed 
of; he wanted to know upon what foundation American art 
could develop. No indigenous art worth the name, thought 
Edelmann, could arise from bricks without straw. "Specula- 
tions and opinions," he wrote in the "Records," "on the 
future of American art have been frequently indulged in of 
late by enthusiastic Americans, who, believing in the 'manifest 
destiny* of this country have given us vivid patterns of the 
beautiful state of affairs soon to be inaugurated here when 
the 'effete civilization and art of the old world' shall be 
surpassed by our progressive citizens. And while it may be 
conceded that such views have a certain value in creating 
a more independent interest in art, through the stimulus of 
national pride, still it is evident that the time has come to 
take a more earnest view of the subject, a view going below 
the surface and doing more than flattering our vanity. To 
begin: let us ask, what is art? There have been many answers; 
but the only one that seems to describe an art worth striving 
for, worthy of being our ideal, is: art is noble thought nobly 
expressed. It should be understood and remembered that the 
idea, and not mere representation, is what gives permanent 
value to an art production. Technical skill, although not to 
be undervalued, is not art itself, but merely the servant of 
art." The essential straw in the brick, in short, was the idea, 
which meant originality. This was a lesson that Louis Sullivan, 
between games at the Lotus Club, did not forget. 

Along the cool and shady banks of the Calumet the 
athletic season of 1875 comprehended some twenty events, 
four of them in the water, tie zoo-yard swim, the quarter-, 
the half-mile, and the mile. In running, there were the furlong, 

74 



THE NOTEBOOK AT THE BOATHOXJSE 

the quarter-, the half-, the mile, and the three-mile runs. The 
field sports embraced three weights in the hammer, three in 
the shot, and throwing the 56-pound weight. Events in which 
Louis let the Sullivan family be represented by his brother 
alone were the walking contests: one, three, seven, and even 
twenty miles. Albert in this year made the twenty miles in 
about four and one-half hours; nobody could outwalk him 
except his rival C. J. Williams and "Father Bill" Curtis, both 
of whom scored three minutes better. But Albert was a very 
serious athlete; he read every book on training that he could 
come by. 

Nor was John Edelmann one of the walkers. He preferred 
to spend such hours in the shadow of his boathouse, educating 
Louis, whom he correctly judged ill-read in poetry even for 
eighteen. And what good was an architect if he was ignorant 
of poetry? "Poetical Miscellany," the burly teacher inscribed 
on a page of the receptive notebook, "selected by John 
Edelmann." Then followed the chorus from Swinburne's 
"Atalanta in Calydon," two pages of it; a stanza from a Spanish 
song; four lines from Rabelais' "Address of Gargantua at 
the Completion of the Castle"; three lines from Sanskrit; nine 
from the "Faerie Queene," beginning "Ye gentle ladies, in 
whose sovereign power, Love hath the glory of his kingdom 
left"; and not forgetting a decorative bit from "Coriolanus": 

The moon of Rome chaste as the icicle 
That's curded by the frost from purest snow, 
And hangs on Dian's temple. 

This third page Edelmann tried to end with a quatrain from 
Landor, but could not recall it from memory very accurately: 

Oh what avails the sceptred race? 
Oh what the form divine? 
When all the beauty, all the grace, 
Rose Aylmer, were thine. 

75 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

"A man," as Sullivan long afterward said of his friend, "of 
immense range of reading." 

But Louis, who at the moment was reading the poems of 
Bret Harte, liked "Cicely," the verses about the crazy wife 
at the Alkali Station. On the next page, his notion of a 
companion-piece to the classic selections of Edelmann was 
a stanza on her: 

Cicely! Cicely! Cicely! I called, and I held my breath, 
And "Cicely!" came from the canyon and all was as still as death. 
And "Cicely! Cicely! Cicely!" came from the rocks below, 
And jest but a whisper of "Cicely! " down from them peaks of snow. 

Edelmann's lessons in literature, of course, did not crowd 
out his more pertinent instruction in design. In "Records," at 
the boathouse, Edelmann made drawings and wrote specifica- 
tions (often in purple ink) either of buildings on which he 
was engaged with his partner Joseph Johnston, or of com- 
missions for which he and Johnston were competing. "A 
Cathedral," Edelmann headed one entry, "for the diocese of 
Cleveland, Ohio." He expected a million dollars to be spent 
on it. He wrote down the particulars, as he envisaged them, 
of nave, transept, circular apse, and dome; the materials, 
sandstone, marble, granite; the interior in polychrome; he 
sketched the facade, triple door, rose window, two minor 
domes, then the domed tower, and finally a top view overall. 

On other pages, when Edelmann and Louis were idling at 
the boathouse on a day in late February 1876, Edelmann 
drew a "study for Sketch Design of City Hall for Chicago," 
to be built at La Salle and Washington Streets. He directed 
minute attention to the tower, for which alone he blocked out 
ten sketches, "The chief difficulty," Edelmann as teacher 
added a note, "in designing a tower so large (with a forty-foot 
base) is, first, to cut it up enough to avoid dwarfing the fea- 
tures of the building; second, to keep it single in its general 

76 



THE NOTEBOOK AT THE BOATHOUSE 

design, the great temptation being, for me at least, to use the 
buttresses, pinnacles, etc., of church towers. (One must har- 
monize these different requirements.)" To illustrate some of 
his points, or to offset them, Edelmann devoted a page to 
sketching a medieval turreted castle, on rocky hills high above 
a river, like a castle on the Rhine. Nor did he neglect pushing 
home his arguments by sketching from memory houses 
designed by him before he ever met Louis: a Victorian 
country house of 1869; a palatial town house of 1873, with 
conical towers, mansard roof, gables, and portico. 

But the more penetrating instruction seems to have taken 
the form of statement by the pupil and comment by the 
teacher. When Louis set down a few lines, Edelmann re- 
sponded with an essay. On one page Louis remarked, "I 
believe that the object and aim of distemper decoration is to 
produce a combination of colour which shall be harmonious 
in itself and with its surroundings, forming a unity of which 
the primary function is general effect." 

To this, Edelmann subjoined: 

I believe the object of all decoration to be the pleasure 
to be derived from looking at it. It is unreasonable to assume 
that there is or ever was an intrinsically perfect system of 
decoration. On the contrary, decoration, like everything else, 
is in a state of evolution, and at best has only relative per- 
fection, that is, an adaptation, more or less perfect, to its 
surroundings. A savage delights in personal decoration, espe- 
cially colour. An Indian paints his person in a gorgeous way 
that is beautiful in his eyes. The manufactures of barbaric 
people are almost unbelievably crudely brilliant, that is, crude 
to us; but it must be remembered that the fine gradations 
of colour in which we delight, the delicate harmony which 
we demand in such work, do not exist for the savage. It 
takes a strong simple stimulus to produce sensations in the 
savage eye. 

Then, too, the question of unity: [to which Louis had 
alluded] unity does not exist except in the highest minds. 

77 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

But first of all let us establish our definition of unity. I believe 
it to be the power of seeing the relations existing between 
a large number of apparently disconnected phenomena, and 
consequently [the power] of making accurate precision of 
the result of placing a large number of activities in certain 
relations. A child, or a savage, in walking over a field or 
through a forest, will note the little details, the irregularities 
of the path, obstacles to be avoided, berries to be eaten, or 
perhaps a wildflower here and there. An adult labourer will 
see but little more. And only an artist will note the com- 
binations of clouds and field, forest, brook, and lake, with 
all the ... effects of colour, light and shade. 

In primitive language there are no general names: for 
instance, some Australian tribes have no name for tree, but 
only specific names for various kinds of trees; no adjectives, 
hard, soft, short, or long . . . Now such people are evidently 
capable of deriving pleasure only from strong specific im- 
pressions. Hence such savages delight in crude brilliant colour. 
It is again so with music. The savage chants are little more 
than noises recurring at intervals, and varying from loud to 
louder and damn loud. 

But from this early stage we have advanced immensely. 
"The general course of evolution is from indefinite homo- 
geneity to definite heterogeneity." Let me make the applica- 
tion to art. The first art objects we know of are [those] 
of the cave-dwellers, and consist in crude profile represen- 
tations of reindeer and other animals. At this stage of human 
development life was very simple . . . similar to that of the 
animals they hunted. As we find no representations of gods, 
we may believe that that vague longing to know the secrets 
of life and death had not yet produced definite results . . . 
society was little more than a congregation of individuals 
for self-preservation. All the individuals followed similar pur- 
suits. Each was more or less a hunter, a ... builder and artist. 
And each shared about alike in this vague curiosity, fear, 
and sense of responsibility from which grew up religion and 
morality . . . 

But as development went on, some developed a special 
aptitude for one kind of labour, some for another, and as 
soon as confidence in one another was sufficiently developed, 

78 



THE NOTEBOOK AT THE BOATHOUSE 

one man would devote himself to one kind of work and barter 
his supplies for the supplies he needed, and hence attained 
greater proficiency in his single pursuit than before. The 
development of art was intimately associated with that of 
religion as soon as man was sufficiently developed to have 
gods. 

And Edelmann was at this moment demonstrating his own 
manner of applying art to religion not only in his sketch of 
the Englewood Church, and in his detailed plan for Cleveland 
Cathedral, but by drawing in "Records" a spandrel for Sinai 
Synagogue, a new temple which Johnston & Edelmann were 
building at Indiana Avenue and Twenty-first Street. It may 
well be asked whither all this instruction in a boathouse, this 
reading and drawing, this lecturing on decoration, this dis- 
secting of leaves and flowers, led young Louis Sullivan, who 
after deserting Paris had found hopping from one architect's 
office to another in Chicago a business dreary enough. But 
these months of "education during recreation" at Lotus Place 
were by no means wasted. John Edelmann had been fully 
aware of the talent in Louis from the day they first met at 
Major Jenney's. The recent tutelage was merely a matter of 
ripening the boy. In the winter of 1875-76 Edelmann added 
young Sullivan to the staff of Johnston & Edelmann, and to 
him entrusted his first full-sized piece of work. Down by the 
Calumet, Louis' pencil and pen had been revealing a flair for 
decoration. Edelmann turned over to him the designing of the 
frescoes for Sinai Temple. 



79 



CHAPTER 



J^ECORATOR AND ATHLETE 



A 



DESCRIPTION OF SULLIVAN ? S FIRST INTERIOR, 

achieved when he was but nineteen, has survived 
only in general terms. The synagogue was not a 
large building. But its arches, columns, borders, 
spandrels, and ceiling earned immediate praise 
from the profession for the invention and the 
harmony in their decoration, for the brilliance and 
the novelty which the youthful designer exhibited 
in distributing color. In consequence, his employers 
felt no compunction in assigning to him, in the 
spring of 1876, the frescoes of another churchly 
hall, five times the size (capacity 2,500) and not 
so orthodox in the faith concerned, for the embel- 
lishment of a "northside" corner at Chicago Avenue 
and La Salle Street. 

This building was to be known as the "Moody 
Tabernacle.'* The evangelist Dwight Moody, in 

80 



DECORATOR AND ATHLETE 

and out of Chicago for some twenty years, had cut a great 
swath among the sinners of the city. They were moved to 
give him a shrine to mark his return from a triumphant two 
years of "revivals" in England (1873-5), a meeting house 
large enough to convert in relays the whole town. By this 
the more intellectual Chicagoans were not too harrowed. 
"Brother" Moody and his colleague Sankey amused them, 
from a distance, and the unbelievers tolerated the visitations. 
When they heard that the architects of the tabernacle were 
to be Messrs. Johnston and Edelmann they merely wondered 
what its decorations would be like. 

The work proved not plain sailing for Louis Sullivan. 
Edelmann, having with his partner put up the structure, gave 
Louis a "free hand" in the interior, and the young designer 
proceeded to use every color and pattern he thought fit. 
Luckily Moody himself was absent; he did not interfere. But 
meddling on the part of ignorant disciples, men and women, 
soon began. They besought Louis to alter his schemes. They 
did not know him; he rebuffed them. Only fear of what 
Moody might say restrained these objectors from defacing 
the walls. Suddenly the evangelist himself, who was "a busy 
man," turned up. He heard their complaint, but did nothing, 
and went away. Evidently D. L. Moody did not think that 
"art" much mattered. 

At this point the architectural correspondent of the 
Chicago Times wrote a sardonic piece which he entitled "A 
Fuss about Frescoing": 

There is a nice little row in progress at Brother Moody's 
church on the North side, about the frescoing. The artist 
(Sullivan) who designed this work saw fit to omit all Chinese 
tendencies. He purposely left out Jupiter, and gave Neptune 
the go-by. He ignored the whole calendar of saints, and made 
as if the Holy Family had no business to be painted. He actu- 
ally departed from the billiard-room style of decoration which 

81 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

so appropriately covers the walls of most churches, and pro- 
duced something at once handsome, befitting, and unique. 
But the brethren are not pleased with it, and the sisters are 
disgusted with it. Just why they do not say, further than that 
they do not like it, and they threaten to have it wiped out. 

During the progress of the work they have now and then 
invited the designer to make certain changes either in de- 
signs or colouring; but he insisted that to do so would be 
to spoil the symmetry of the work, and has refused to accede 
either to their requests or demands. One of the lady members 
even went so far as to write with a piece of chalk on the 
wall, "This is the most disgraceful colouring that ever defaced 
the walls of a church." But the artist, notwithstanding this 
bold criticism, continued his work according to the original 
design. 

Day after day the threats to have it wiped out have grown 
louder, and nothing except the promise of Brother Moody's 
speedy return home saved it from spoliation. It seems to have 
been decided to get his views upon the matter before destroy- 
ing it. During his brief visit to the tabernacle on Friday last 
an effort was made to get him to declare himself . . . but with- 
out success. ... In about two days more the work will be 
completed. If Brother Moody approves it, it will be allowed 
to stand. If he utters one word of disapproval, out it goes. 



Moody appears to have held himself "above" the squabbles 
of his flock. He probably did not know whether Sullivan's 
ornamentation was good art or bad, reverent or irreverent. 
If it was wrong, no such minor matter should delay his 
saving of souls; if its was artistic, so much the better. 

The Chicago Times, in its Sunday issue of May 21, re- 
turned to the scene to the generous extent of a column and 
a half. Part of what the critic wrote, on inspecting the 
Tabernacle just opened to the public, reflected so intimately 
the studies which Louis had made in the previous summer at 
Lotus Place, that Louis himself might have told the man what 
to say. 

82 



DECORATOR AND ATHLETE 

The idea underlying these frescoes is botanical; the anat- 
omy of plants is geologically treated the structural growth 
is carried throughout the forms, and the leaves and flowers 
are seen geometrically that is, without perspective as one 
sees their lines when pressed in the herbarium. For an instant, 
the vision is obscure; the design is so recondite, and its work- 
ing-out so scientific, that the conception does not become 
fully apparent until the whole is seen at once; then the unity 
is obvious, and the details reveal themselves in their massive 
harmony. 

In sum, the critic went on to reproduce the Sullivan 
decorations: 

A central cove, octagonal at the bottom, divides a ceiling 
supported on columns, six of which pass through the gallery 
from below; and the gallery ceiling is on a level with the 
springing line of the cove. Decoration starts at the centre of 
of the circular skylight, thence radiates to the walls. Begin- 
ning with a series of sprigs in pot-metal glass and cast-iron- 
cathedral glass, from England the movement extends to an 
outer ring of rosettes which completes the skylight, and the 
transition to the cove is upon a slightly lower level, a wide 
raised band of maroon with gold blades upon each edge. 
Connection between this band and the octagonal lintel at die 
bottom of the cove results from large maroon sprigs which, 
starting from the tops of the columns, throw out two leaves 
which cross each other and delicately touch with the extrem- 
ity of their ends the circular band. In the triangular space 
between the band and the two crossed leaves lies a white 
flower which completes the plant form the plant being 
represented, it should be remembered, only structurally. 

The aggregate of the triangular fields forms round the 
skylight an eight-pointed star of pure gold, which finds a 
gilded echo throughout the entire design. Cobalt fields filled 
with secondary or minor forms separate the sprigs, over 
which fields maroon lines unite the band above the lintel 
below. The design then enters the gallery ceiling, and has for 
its framework radiating maroon stiles which pass from the 

83 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

columns directly to the walls, where they all connect with a 
similar stile skirting the junction-line of the ceiling and walls, 
and pass down the curved sides of the windows to the wain- 
scot. A border composed of smaller forms than those in the 
cove follows this framework throughout the whole flat ceil- 
ing, to form a separate and complete border for each class- 
room, an effect yet perfectly symmetrical when the curtains 
are drawn back. While the entire field of this ceiling is pure 
cobalt blue, the walls are a medium shade of madder-brown. 
In colour the columns connect the cove with the face of the 
gallery, the upper part of which is tinted, and the lower 
shaded. 

The chancel, being an important part of the integer, re- 
ceives considerable elaboration. A circular border round a 
rose-window passes into a square border, whose panels on 
each side contain a diaper pattern, the whole being framed 
by columns which join it to the work above. The principle of 
the colouring is that of interweaving. A single leading colour, 
maroon, is the theme, upon which the others depend. The 
principle of the forms is botanical, and the forms themselves 
are not the end of the decoration, but the means of illustrat- 
ing the surfaces they cover, and of uniting into a consistent 
whole the structural features of the interior. Naturally forms 
determine the distribution of colours, while the colours ac- 
centuate the rhythm of the composition, and manifest the 
individuality of the forms. 

The conception is, therefore, purely architectural and 
scientific, and, when completed, its dignity and richness will 
first bewilder, next astonish, and finally charm. A scaffolding 
now hides the unity and breaks up the colouring, of which 
an unprofessional visitor can obtain only a partial and unsat- 
isfactory view. 

So far as the Times can ascertain, there is only one other 
building in this portion of the country in which the frescoing 
belongs to the same school the Sinai Synagogue at Indiana 
Avenue and Twenty-first Street. The interior of this edifice is 
well worth going to see for ... its brilliant and unique orna- 
mentation; but the design, which is similar in principle [to 
that of the Moody Tabernacle], with a considerable corre- 
spondence in theme, is on a much smaller scale. 



DECORATOR AND ATHLETE 

The decorator of both the Sinai Synagogue and Moody's 
Tabernacle is a young architect, Mr, Louis H. Sullivan. [Here 
the critic expanded upon Louis 1 studies at "Boston Tech" and 
at the Beaux Arts.] Mr. Sullivan brings to architecture and 
architectural decoration a thorough and fine culture, an en- 
thusiasm and persistence which give glowing promise, and a 
taste founded upon classical principles and inspired by an 
artistic imagination. Leading architects of the city have be- 
stowed upon his work the highest encomium, and some of 
them characterize his invention and power as wonderful. . . . 
Chicago owes a large debt to Moody and his friends for their 
significant contribution to the art, culture, and taste of the 
West. An example has been set which will be speedily and 
widely followed. 

So it was that the professional career of of Louis took 
rise at the precocious age of nineteen. He pocketed a clipping 
of this review which called him "wonderful." Great had been 
his victory over the Philistines, the brethren and sisters, who 
must now lift their religion up to the level of his art, if they 
could. Louis and Edelmann, from the Thursday following, 
took a long week end at Lotus Place. 

Edelmann, with his purple ink, covered two pages in 
"Records'* with sketches of hurdlers, their fellow athletes in 
shorts and vizored caps taking the jumps. One of their friends 
had recently married. This was a departure from which the 
brawny young members of the Club, in particular the Sullivan 
brothers and John Edelmann, held aloof, if they did not 
disapprove. The Sullivans, for their part, remained perfectly 
content to live with their parents in Twenty-third Street. At 
the Lotus the members (on May 26) discussed the question, 
with reference to the newlyweds. "That holy state," Louis 
rather cynically wrote in the notebook, "in which they will 
have a legal right to hate each other as much as they please: 
Matrimony/' Edelmann turned the page, and added, "For 
myself," his usual first words, "I need not make the applica- 

85 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

tion, for I am not married nor have I any thoughts that way; 
but if I had, it would not be a woman's fortune but her 
character should recommend her, for public reputation is 
the life of a lady's virtue, and the outward appearance of 
modesty is in one sense as good as die reality, since a private 
sin is not as prejudicial in this world as a public indecency." 

When Edelinann was not writing, he was drawing, with 
the same pen. This page containing his views on matrimony he 
proceeded to adorn with a picture of Don Quixote in armor, 
complete with shield and with sword uplifted, mounted 
on a very jaded Rosinante. But he added, a few pages 
overleaf, a suggestion of the sport of the day. There was a 
short pier, or dock, jutting into the Calumet about ten feet 
above the water, from which the members dived naked for 
their swimming. Edelmann, probably from a boat, sketched 
one man at the edge of the pier about to jump in, another 
on his toes at the end of a springboard, a third in mid-air, 
just cleaving the water, and a fourth submerged, looking like 
a chicken in aspic. The last two, who were younger than 
the others, appear to have been the Sullivans. 

But the more serious business at the Lotus was to plan 
an event that might serve to commemorate the coming 
centennial of American independence. A small group agreed 
upon a month of wrestling matches, "Graeco-Roman," with 
final bouts on July 4. Beginning on June 4, Albert Sullivan 
disposed of Edelmann; and a week later he did it again. Louis 
on that day reached a draw with Williams, while Albert, on 
June 1 8, defeated the same man. They resumed their bouts, 
either two falls in three or three in five, on July 2, when 
"Father Bill" Curtis joined them, and beat Edelmann, while 
Albert Sullivan won over a new member called Montgomery. 
Edelmann, who was a better manager of his mind than of 
his muscles, had thus far lost every throw; yet he at once 
challenged Albert to the third match between them, so good 

86 



DECORATOR AND ATHLETE 

a loser as Edelmann not objecting to "punishment." But 
Albert had twice the chest expansion of any other member, 
and again Edelmann lay underneath, in two straight throws. 

Louis engaged in no more wrestling until the Fourth of 
July celebrations. He looked on. Now and again he drew 
portraits, but not of the athletes. There was a middle-aged 
woman who cooked for the Lotus; they called her Madame 
Girard. Louis sketched a profile of such a woman, dated 
June 13, and another one undated. She had a vulpine nose, 
blunt at the tip and retrousse; her chin was firm, her eyebrow 
straight, and her eye rather stern but not unattractive. In the 
undated portrait she wore a hood, turned back at the edge; 
the other profile revealed her bareheaded, with her hair in 
thick coils at the back, "bangs" down the forehead, and 
bedecked at either side with a rose and its leaves, the far side 
of course showing only points of leaves projecting. Round 
her shoulders a shawl was draped. It looked as if Louis, who 
was fond of roses, had adorned her for the sitting. The 
woman seemed not very pleased; being a kind of Cyrano, 
she would hardly have chosen the side view. But both 
portraits, even if meant to be caricatures, and even if the 
subject was a rural cook, were at once the handiwork of an 
artist. 

On the morning of July 4 the members began the day 
with a plunge in the river, then "partook of the hospitality of 
Madame Girard," and gave the time from 1 1 o'clock onward 
to the weights; the hammer, the shot, and the "fifty-six." 
Albert Sullivan, really the most consistent general athlete of 
the club, won all three, while Louis gained only a third and 
two fourths. After lunch they all went into a grove that was 
a part of the premises of the Lotus, for jumping contests and 
outdoor gymnastics. Only two men here showed any dex- 
terity; but Louis was one of them. Water sports followed, 
including diving through a hoop, at which only Albert 

87 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

excelled. In the late afternoon of a hot day the games ended 
in wrestling matches between Albert and Williams, and be- 
tween Louis and "never-say-die" Edelmann. Williams, himself 
a young giant, from England, had ten days earlier challenged 
Albert in a letter in French, calling him sacre Yankee; and 
Albert, replying in French, had said that the question of 
superiority, whether of the Lion d'Angleterre or of VAigle 
de FAmerique would doubtless be determined in a satisfactory 
manner. In the end, Albert won, but required three bouts in 
a match for two out of three, the second of which ran to 
37 minutes. It was recorded that Albert gained both of his 
falls by "his famous headlock." 

The match between Louis and Edelmann was by com- 
parison tame, although, set for best three in five, it ran to 
four bouts (in a total of less than a quarter of an hour of 
wrestling) before Louis managed to conquer his friend. 
Williams, writing an account of the day for the New York 
Sportsman (July 15, 1876), said of the second of these bouts: 
"L. H. Sullivan again commenced very lively, and got himself 
into a very difficult position, John Edelmann having a very 
good headlock It looked 100 to i on Edelmann; but Sullivan 
showed great skill, and eventually, by a peculiar twist, 
managed to get Edelmann's two shoulders on the ground, 
when it looked as if he had not a chance to win." 

The summary of falls showed the Sullivans ahead of all 
the others, Albert being easily the champion, fourteen to two, 
and Louis runner-up although having won only four bouts, 
against two lost. Poor Edelmann trailed all the rest; he was 
victor in a single bout, and he was beaten in twelve. Yet in 
this rather ungainly big man there was something indomitable; 
in such a trait he set an example to young Louis as a rising 
architect. Two days later (July 6) Edelmann, having devised 
what he called a "new system of training for hammer-throw- 



DECORATOR AND ATHLETE 

ing," hurled the lo-pound hammer eighty-five feet, and in 
"Records" he proudly wrote: "beat Albert Sullivan for the 
first time." 

In the last week of July two crews of the athletes turned 
to oarsmanship, one rowing in a red boat, the other in a white 
one. No scores of their races are extant. But Albert Sullivan, 
who was statistician of this club presided over by Curtis, did 
set down in a beautiful copybook hand the "bodily measure- 
ments" of most of his clubmates (omitting Louis, who was 
no doubt too busy at his drafting-board in Chicago), and the 
complete results of the "walking tournaments" of the Lotus 
in October and November. In none of these "walks" could 
Albert make a good showing; it was the only event that 
defeated him; whether in the mile, the three mile, the seven, 
or the exhausting twenty (which they traversed on the tracks 
of his company, the Illinois Central Railway), the best that 
Albert could do was to tie with Billings for last place. Even 
Curtis in his fortieth year outpaced Albert aged twenty-two. 
Louis, no such zealot of sport, did not compete; he was by 
nature too impatient to string out his skill, hour after hour, 
in a tedious exhibition of walking. 

If all these athleticswhich seemed to consume at least 
as much of the members' time outdoors as they put into 
earning their living indoors did nothing else for Louis 
Sullivan they apparently preserved his youthful looks. A 
photograph taken of him in December 1 876 reveals practically 
no change in his appearance from the one of six years before, 
when he was a pupil at "Boston Tech," except that he had 
grown sideburns reaching nearly to his chin, as if he wished 
to look older in the company of so many architects who were 
still older. There is the same careful combing of the hair at 
the side, the same attentive serious expression, eyes slightly 
narrowed, mouth not too firmly set as before, and he even 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

wears the same low-cut collar and the bow tie with long ends. 
With good reason, he has lost nothing of his boyish con- 
fidence, nor gained any jot of repose. 

The "season" at Lotus Place embraced every month 
except December and January. Albert Sullivan, but not Louis, 
spent the winter, on the physical side, lifting i,ooo-pound 
weights in a gymnasium, like "Father Bill" Curtis. Yet the 
Sullivan brothers were like-minded in their ambition for 
self -improvement Both read the scientific works of John 
Tyndall. Albert got from Edelmann a reading list of British, 
French and American novels of the nineteenth century. 
Looking forward to a day when he should stand up and 
address railway executives, he kept up at his night school his 
performances in public speaking. Louis, of course, could 
speak without lessons; his only difficulty was in knowing 
when not to speak. It was not easy for him to stop talking 
long enough to read a book; but he got through a volume of 
Darwin, and really buried himself in a work given him by 
his father, J. W. Draper's Intellectual Development of Europe. 
Draper here applied the lessons of physical science to history, 
wherefrom Louis concluded that architecture must "sympa- 
thize with mankind." 

For a draftsman of his years, he was forming ideas on a 
grand scale. But it did seem to him that Draper confirmed 
a theory of Edelmann's, a theory that Edelmann called 
"suppressed functions." How, in building, were these func- 
tions to be released, if not by the designing of the architect? 
Frank Furness, the picturesque martinet, may again have 
come to mind, the man who said "a building should proclaim 
its use"; or the famous entretiens of Eugene Emmanuel 
Viollet-le-Duc, whom Louis may well have encountered in 
Paris: "that is not architecture which does not consider both 
the material in prescribing a mode of building, and the form 
which results from it." 

90 



DECORATOR AND ATHLETE 

Louis' decorating, as assistant to Johnston & Edelmann, 
had gone ahead of his building. Since texts of any worth on 
architecture were few, he sought enlightenment on construc- 
tion in the Engineer's Pocket Book, by Troutwine. Engineers 
began to captivate him like heroes of juvenile fiction. They 
were the only men who could both recognize and grapple 
with a problem, who imagined, thought, did, who threw a 
cantilever across the Kentucky River or spanned the Missis- 
sippi with arches. What lessons of this brave engineering 
could be absorbed into architecture? An age of science was 
pushing into the foreground, and Louis undertook to look 
into the books of T. H. Huxley, of Herbert Spencer. The 
stiff reading which the Beaux Arts required (to say nothing 
of the urging of John Edelmann) had at least taught him, 
more than he admitted, how to dig into a volume that repaid 
the effort. 

Unlike his Herculean brother, who seemed to make a 
religion of athletics, Louis plumbed the soundings of his 
profession itself, long after working hours. Albert also could 
get away from his railway shops oftener than Louis could 
escape his drafting-board. It was Albert who early in February 
(i 877) rushed down to Lotus Place and "measured the course 
below the bridge," and laid off the second mile "with range- 
stakes thirty feet apart." It was Albert who a week later 
recorded the "opening of the season," and who "plunged in 
river, temperature of water 35 degrees." To limber up, he 
put the shot, threw the hammer, and rowed three miles in 
a single scull. But Louis kept to Chicago, in order to frequent 
the company of the "highest draftsmen," of whom he was 
now an accepted luncheon-companion. The architects congre- 
gated at Kinsley's restaurant, a rendezvous for gourmets in 
Adams Street, near Michigan Avenue. Already, before Louis 
was twenty-one, he was "trying to choose" a middle-aged 
architect, with whom he should aspire to a partnership. 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

Not until June 24 did Louis "warm up" at the Lotus. On 
that day he competed in track and field sports against his 
brother, Curtis, Barnard, Billings, Wiley, and the Downs 
brothers. The dashes were the no-yard and the 440; there 
were two weights in the shot; the 56-pound; and three weights 
in the hammer. While the mighty Albert took either first or 
second in all of the events but one (he ran third in the 
quarter-mile), and while the "elderly" Curtis won four, 
including the no, Louis had to be content with thirds and 
fourths, and in the quarter he was fifth. But he was a con- 
servative athlete thinking of other things. Even so, he ran 
the no in 13% seconds, well bunched with all the others 
except Curtis. The results of each event Albert Sullivan 
tabulated not in "Records," but on the back of laundry lists 
from Munger's Laundry of 126 Dearborn Street, near the 
offices of Johnston & Edelmann. 

There is no evidence that Louis took part in any games 
thereafter. Albert, with Curtis and Billings, started the season 
of 1878 as usual in February, when the three competed in 
the weights and in sculling races. Louis turned up in May. 
But he amused himself by sketching once more a profile of 
Mme. Girard. In two years the woman had aged circles 
under her eyes, lines at the corner of the mouth, at nose and 
jaw, and she had a dewlap; yet a certain panache remained in 
the way she did her hair, combed up in back and wound 
into a high knot. The artist was a man who with a pencil 
could heighten the character of a character already distinct. 

Nor, for over a year, had John Edelmann any longer 
found recreation at Lotus Place. During most of the time he 
was not even in Chicago. He terminated his partnership with 
Joseph Johnston, and fared forth to try farming in Iowa. The 
weakness of this curious man, Edelmann, talented in so many 
directions, was, as Sullivan said, that he lacked any "program 
in life." Evidently his going away left his younger friend and 

9 2 



DECORATOR AND ATHLETE 

colleague rather adrift, however much professional esteem 
Sullivan enjoyed from his feats of decorating in tabernacle 
and synagogue. The artistic life did entail its occupational 
hazards. (Of these, Albert Sullivan in his prosaic but indis- 
pensable railway shops knew nothing; he was promoted in 
1878 to be Chief Clerk of Machinery.) And then, suddenly, 
Edelmann bobbed up again, to live in Oak Park, and to 
embrace architecture once more like a philanderer returning 
to his first love. 

He rejoined Burling & Adler, whom he had left seven 
years before. He reappeared at Kinsley's to lunch with the 
architects who habitually met there. On seeing Sullivan again, 
and gathering that the young man was still neither importantly 
nor permanently engaged, Edelmann invited him to his 
office "to meet Mr. Adler." It is unlikely, however, that 
Sullivan had not previously seen something of Adler (twelve 
years his senior), since Adler is credited with the design of 
the Sinai Temple, and although the actual building of this 
synagogue was carried out by Johnston & Edelmann, Sullivan 
as the decorator of its interior could hardly have missed 
crossing the path of the man responsible for its exterior. 
Nevertheless Sullivan himself narrates his present meeting 
(1879) with Adler as if it were his introduction. 

Dankmar Adler, born in Germany in 1844, had at the 
age of ten emigrated to Detroit with his father, a rabbi. Like 
Sullivan, the boy showed facility in drawing, but unlike him, 
had not inherited the talent. Both began to draw at the age 
of about twelve or thirteen, Sullivan at the side of his mother, 
Adler under a master. But Adler next took lessons from an 
architect, and then, at fifteen, even joined an architect's 
office, where he learned the history of the art, and the 
technique of water-color. His precocity therefore appears to 
have antedated that of Sullivan, who received no instruction 
in architecture until at sixteen he entered "Boston Tech," 

93 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

In 1 86 1 the Adlers moved to Chicago. Dankmar again 
found work with an architect, but left a year later to enlist in 
the Illinois Artillery proceeding South into the Civil War. 
For three years he fought bravely, being wounded, but 
picked up much valuable experience in engineering, studied 
texts on the subject, and in the end served as topographer. 
Shortly after he returned to Chicago and to his old office he 
was able to join a larger firm. Here he remained, as foreman, 
until in 1871 he formed a partnership with Edward Burling. 

The Chicago fire in the autumn of that year gave 
Burling and Adler extraordinary opportunity. In 1872 alone 
they are said to have designed a hundred buildingsoffices, 
halls, institutes, churches. If Burling was older in years, Adler 
soon grew riper in achievement, thus becoming the dominant 
figure in the firm. This was the position when Edelmann took 
Louis Sullivan to visit the office in 1879. 

The firm occupied a big unadorned room, with drawing 
tables all round at the windows, and two desks in the middle 
like islands in a pond. Burling, a long bulky Yankee whom 
the panic subsequent to the fire had aged, held out a hand to 
Sullivan, while Adler, a squat bearded Jew, but only thirty- 
five, with a dome of forehead and kinky black hair, "beamed 
a welcome." Unlike the taunting draftsmen in most of the 
minor offices Sullivan had tried, Adler intelligently questioned 
his caller about the Beaux Arts. Now primarily an engineer, 
and hence in the category of Sullivan's "heroes," Adler was 
the engaging kind of senior who seeks in an interview with 
younger men to add to his knowledge. 

Louis Sullivan went away from this meeting very 
thoughtful. 



94 



CHAPTER 



PARTNERSHIP 



lOT MANY YOUNG MEN HAVE BEEN BLESSED 

with a friend like John Edelmann, that singular 
example of the egotist who was no egoist, a man 
who while giving the "I" undue prominence in his 
speech did not do so in thought. He delighted in 
taking a deeper interest in his protege than in him- 
self. In 1 879, only a few months after he had invited 
Sullivan to call upon Adler, Edelmann apprised 
Sullivan that Adler had left Burling. The time had 
come, said Edelmann, to go and see Adler again. 

The engineer Adler, although expert in the 
mechanics of building, was not so able in design, 
whereas Sullivan, both as draftsman and as decora- 
tor, was a prodigy. It was as if all the musical talent 
of Patrick Sullivan and Andrienne List, which might 
have begotten a composer, had in their son inclined 
his prehensile fingers to pencil and triangle instead 

95 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

of to sharps and flats, the parental sense of rhythm and the 
parental power of mobility persisting no less. Indeed compa- 
rable skill in draftsmanship, though within narrower limits, 
had prevailed in Albert Sullivan as well, but without Louis' 
additional aptitude for improvising, upon occasion, at the 
piano. 

By this time Dankmar Adler was well aware of Louis 
Sullivan's talents. When Edelmann, as confident sponsor, 
presented his friend a second time, few words were needed. 
An opening existed, and Adler engaged Sullivan to take 
charge as office manager. Whereupon the jubilant young man 
left the house of his parents (who in this year moved to 
Wabash Avenue), and engaged rooms for himself at a more 
convenient address, 396 Chicago Avenue. 

With a career opening before him he was apparently too 
engrossed in it, this year, to pass much time at Lotus Place. 
"Records" contains no mention of him in 1879. Albert was 
down there in September, faithfully taking physical "measure- 
ments" of himself and Billings, from top to toe, weighing 
himself "stripped," comparing figures with previous years. 
Having gained in the period 1874-77, he was now losing 
weight, and had dropped from 162 to 158 pounds. Still he 
thought he should like to continue his exploits in brawn until 
at least the year 1885. As an athlete Albert Sullivan was 
devout; a favorite book of his was entitled Wonders of Bodily 
Strength and Skill 

At the moment his brother Louis was modestly helping 
Adler build the New Central Music Hall, at Randolph and 
State Streets. But three fresh orders came in, for a house, a 
theater, and a six-story structure to be known as the "Borden 
Block." It was upon the Block in particular that Sullivan first 
tried his exterior theories, for the Adler firm itself was to 
occupy the top floor. 

The hybrid influence of Frank Furness guided the new 

96 



PARTNERSHIP 

manager more than he admitted horizontal division into 
three pairs of stories, spandrels and entablatures over the 
second story, top windows arched, the half-moon lunettes 
carved, all as it were conventionally corrupt. But the "bones" 
were different. The better side of what Sullivan had learned 
in Philadelphia was that cast-iron was destined to replace 
masonry between windows, at once to admit more light and 
to reduce the weight of the walls. With the Greek elements 
of pier and lintel, the vertical and the horizontal, foremost in 
mind, he narrowed the piers and used I-beams for lintels, thus 
gaining the maximum in window and daylight, and abolishing 
the claustrophobic bulk of the "solid wall." 

In May 1880 Adler and his colleagues moved into this 
building, with which the head of the firm was much pleased. 
"How would you like," he said to Sullivan, "to take me into 
partnership?" 

The young man fetched a dazzled smile. 

Adler gave him a contract for five years, with a third of 
the profits for the first year, and an equal share thereafter. 
The name they adopted was "D. Adler & Co." 

As the meridian of the year always found the meridian of 
activity down by the Calumet, with the Fourth of July hard 
upon it a gaja day, Sullivan decided to return to the club for 
its celebrations, and at the same time commemorate his 
reaching the status of partner. He has left no record of then 
joining in games. What he did on July 4 (fortunately for 
posterity he always dated his doings) was to sketch. As if 
on the previous night he had heard a performance of Berlioz's 
"Damnation of Faust," he drew a head of Mephistopheles, 
and on the next page a sub-devil, who except for his horns 
(three of them) might have been Caliban. This lesser monster, 
whose long neck was thick and curved like a camel's, had 
pointed ears, emphasizing his horns. The chin and jowls of 
his moon-face had grown a mass of knobs, from gluttony, 

97 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

his lips were cracked up and down, his nose was flat as a 
Negro's, and from his sub-human wide eyes came an odd 
blend of cunning and wonder. Satan, in the other picture, was 
by contrast all that might be expected and more. He turned 
his head a bit left, but with eyes astonishingly the eyes of a 
snake glanced downward to the right. His nose was long to 
a tip, his mouth upcurved and sensual. The skull-cap fitting 
down over the horns bore at one side a rosette from which 
issued a serpentine plume, lengthening out a face already 
spare, while the edge of this cap, across the forehead and 
temples, was studded with gems. Elegance did not end there. 
A high collar spread pointed wings in harmony with the 
horns, while rich embroidery bedecked both the bottom of 
the collar and the shoulders of the king of fiends. If Louis 
Sullivan had ever thought of dropping architecture in favor 
of portraiture, these imaginative sketches alone revealed the 
power he possessed of bringing out character. Neither a Devil 
nor a Caliban had anything to do with the Fourth of July 
games in 1880 at Lotus Place; but such drawings did in 
intimate style show how sure of himself as an artist their 
creator had grown at twenty-four. 

His parents now shifted their "dancing academy"; they 
remained in Twenty-second Street, but (at No. 137) not so 
far on, and as no other address for them is on record hence- 
forth, studio and house appear to have been under the same 
roof. Of their sons, it can only be said of Albert that in 1881 
he evidently gave up his athletics at Lotus Place; in four years 
he had lost fourteen pounds, a drop which brought his weight 
down to 148. "Records" contains no later mention of either 
Albert or Louis Sullivan. Indeed Louis in his partnership was 
now too preoccupied to visit boathouses, let alone run and 
jump, wrestle or swim. The earnings of his firm were now 
divided; the firm in 1881 became Adler & Sullivan, and Louis 
Sullivan at twenty-five was the youngest equal partner among 

98 



PARTNERSHIP 

architects in Chicago. As if to signalize his progress he pro- 
moted his listing in the Lakeside Directory from "draftsman" 
to "designer." If Patrick and Andrienne Sullivan saw their 
younger son forging ahead of his brother, the dancers yet had 
no complaint of the prospects of either. 

The need of Chicago in its reconstruction was not only 
for new offices, but for department stores. A firm of drapers 
called Rothschild required an "emporium" of five stories, and 
when the order fell to Adler & Sullivan the designer broke 
from the horizontally of their Borden Block. He stressed 
the vertical, mindful perhaps of that old Jayne Building in 
Philadelphia. But his new scheme was really an affirmation of 
Richardson's Romanesque, which Sullivan as a student in 
Boston had so admired. To the mullions, the division-pieces 
between the window lights, he now gave unbroken continuity 
from the second floor to the top. Increased window space 
was thus as inevitable as for the shop it was desirable; but 
what Sullivan produced above all was an immense gain in 
unity. Beyond that, if in ornamenting the top in Egyptian 
style he followed Edelmann, Sullivan asserted his own excuse 
for decoration as essential to distinguish architecture from 
carpentry. In the Moody Tabernacle he had adorned the 
interior; he now brought ornament outdoors. While groping 
toward originality, Sullivan envisaged it, with all the fervor 
and confidence of youth, as a quality he had already won and 
demonstrated. 

During this season of 1881-2 he designed for Martin 
Ryerson, in South Wabash Avenue, the Jewelers' Building. 
It led to a smaller commission which brought him larger 
reputation overseas. There was to be in 1883 an exhibition 
of silver-work, and Sullivan was engaged to fashion it. In 
his drawings he produced a laciness that harmonized with the 
intricacies of silverware finely wrought, with the result that 
to the young man of twenty-seven came high recognition 

99 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

from abroad. This work was noticed with praise in Paris, in 
the Revue des Arts Decoratifs. The "glowing promise" of 
Sullivan, mentioned seven years before by the architectural 
critic of the Chicago Times, seemed in course of being borne 
out. 

Though Adler & Sullivan were now building private 
houses as well as commercial, four or five a year, it was the 
larger work which quickened in Sullivan the decorative 
impulse. When in the next year he undertook in East Ran- 
dolph Street another building for the Ryerson family he 
resorted not only to Egyptian but to Aztec ornament, pro- 
ducing a rather startling fagade of columns like piled spools, 
relieved, if that were the word, with embellishments in the 
form of a fan. He was still thinking of Richardson, in whom 
ky so much power to be "different"; but Sullivan in truth 
rather recalled Furness. The young architect experimenting in 
Chicago had not yet drawn a clear line between "artistic 
originality and grotesque novelty/' 

He was in the thick of his commissions in this year of 
1884 two single houses, two blocks of three houses each, a 
temple, a theater, and four mercantile buildings when on 
June 15 his father died, in his house-cum-studio at 137 
Twenty-second Street. Patrick Sullivan, to the last the Irish 
dancing master, "with little eyes of nondescript colour and 
no flash, sunk under rough brows," was sixty-five. For fifteen 
years he had lived happily with his Andrienne in Chicago, 
where he had seen both of his sons, before they were thirty, 
rise to assured careers, Louis the most conspicuous of the 
younger architects, and Albert, again promoted, the assistant 
superintendent of machinery for a great railway. The father, 
who had himself clung to bachelorhood until he was thirty- 
four, could have felt little concern that neither son had 
married; they had at least avoided mistakes in choice; and the 
family had remained intimately together, undivided in their 

100 



PARTNERSHIP 

affection. No immigrant of his time could have drawn more 
satisfaction than Patrick Sullivan from his decision to settle 
in America. He was buried in Graceland Cemetery. 

A few months thereafter his son Louis began to write a 
long "prose-poem," which he entitled "The Master." It was 
supposed to describe any master; but it may have embodied 
reflections upon the dancing master; and it undoubtedly 
contained much of Louis Sullivan himself. 



101 



8 



CHAPTER 



T 



HE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 



M, 



LUCH AS THE SULLIVAN BROTHERS WERE DEVOTED 

to both of their parents, it was their mother of 
whom they were fonder. Patrick Sullivan, at home 
as in his "academy," had always been the discipli- 
narian, even long after his sons had grown to 
manhood. Albert in particular regarded his father 
a "severe" man. But his retort, to both sons, would 
have been, "You may thank my severity for having 
made you the capable men that you are!" 

The death of the father of the family naturally 
brought the two young bachelors of tener into the 
company of the widow. Nor was this purely a 
matter of consolation. The three Sullivans found 
one another "livelier-minded," upon the whole, 
than their friends, and this family companionship 
must at times have recalled the old days of sketching 
at Folly Cove when the men were small boys and 

102 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

the mother herself was hardly out of her girlhood. Andrienne 
Sullivan, on an evening in the present November, made a 
pencil drawing of Louis playing his piano, an upright piano 
with a tasselled stool. The drawing was a diagonal view. With 
head and shoulders expressively back, the bearded young 
pianist was playing from a bound score, his coat, which was 
well-cut, hanging loosely, and his right hand spanning an 
octave. A family in which artistry was so well distributed 
was its own entertainment. 

Yet both sons grew ever more absorbed in their daily 
occupations. Albert's progress at the Illinois Central was a 
typical American case of "up the ladder." In his methodical 
yet highly capable way he was developing into a very sound 
railway executive, who within a year of his father's death 
was to proceed to the post of divisional superintendent. The 
only competition that Albert had to contend with was inside 
the company, and it proved no obstacle, whereas Louis, in 
order to keep his firm to the front, was obliged to pit his 
abilities against those of rival architects in rival firms. 

Of these individuals, the foremost in talent was John Root, 
of Burnham & Root, whose achievement in the Montauk 
Building was a feat of fireproofing. Root, like Sullivan, was 
the "prancer" of the partnership. Indeed the contrast between 
Burnham and Root as personalities was as remarkable as that 
between Adler and Sullivan. Facial likenesses Burnham and 
Root did have, both being fat-cheeked, with moustaches as 
heavy as Victorian custom ever saw, and hair parted midway 
in an age when to part it at the side was held an obliquity, if 
not sinister; but Burnham, a giant, was long-faced as well. 
Sullivan called him "elephantine, tactless, and blurring," and 
said he "plastered big-business men with flattery." Like Adler, 
Burnham was the wheel horse, the restrainer, while Root, like 
Sullivan, was the innovator, the man of ideas. 

John Root had come north from Georgia. Blue-eyed, 

103 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

red-haired, freckled, short as well as fat, Bohemian in habits, 
and only six years older than Sullivan, he was in Sullivan's 
eyes "a man of the world, of the flesh, and considerably of 
the devil." While Burnham was quite humorless, his partner 
was given to puns that would have made even Charles Lamb 
groan; when Burnham said he was forty-two, Root retorted 
that he "bore it with fortitude." Like Sullivan, Root was 
something of a pianist; he was constantly in demand at parties. 
Like Sullivan again, Root was self-indulgent, "vain to the 
sky," and "ambitious to be the first to do this or that." If 
Sullivan's final comment on the competing team was that 
whereas Burnham "had it in him to be big," Root "had it in 
him to be great," Sullivan in the same breath believed great- 
ness to be not beyond his own grasp. 

Perhaps Louis Sullivan, in his Olympian judgment of 
architects who mattered, was being too exclusive. Chicago, 
phoenix from a great fire, was hatching a whole new "school" 
of architecture, men unequalled in ingenuity elsewhere in 
America, except in the unique case of Henry Richardson. 
Sullivan's old master Jenney, the vertiginous gnome, took up 
the challenge of Philadelphia and designed for Chicago the 
first iron-framed building. Martin Roche, who had worked 
alongside Sullivan in the Jenney office, was now in partner- 
ship with William Holabird and was experimenting with 
steel. Other young architects were bringing forward their 
new ideas, and in a place like Chicago, still requiring so many 
acres of new construction, were getting a hearing. Yet 
Sullivan, though ever alive to the worth of these advances, 
was not quite so ready to grant professional eminence to their 
inventors who, after all, did not "decorate," did not beautify 
what they built, to anything like the degree to which Sullivan 
intended to consecrate himself as an artist. 

But it was no policy of Adler & Sullivan just to go on 
with big shops and big houses mainly, though unconf essedly, 

104 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

in the manner of Richardson. Every year they built a theater. 
Owners chose the firm for this work less because of Sullivan's 
artistry than because Adler was expert in the physics of sound 
and light. In April 1885, the architects were asked to design 
on the shore of Lake Michigan an Opera Festival House, a 
gigantic inset to be fitted within an old Exposition building, 
and to seat 6,200 persons. 

The "promoter" of this scheme was Ferdinand Peck, a 
Chicago character who shrank from anonymity. He enjoyed 
the title of "Commodore," a rank which he derived from 
sailing a yacht on the Lake. Something of a dandy, he was 
(on land) addicted at all hours to a white top hat. Peck was 
well-to-do, he was influential, and he posed as a philanthro- 
pist; but he preferred that his love of (local) mankind be 
remunerative in glory if not in dividends. 

For the temporary circus which Peck proposed, Sullivan 
drew a fan-shaped structure with aisles like spread fingers, 
and the whole comprising orchestra seats, balcony and gallery. 
Adler, for his part, put in 7,000 gas jets, had the hall 
"thoroughly wanned by steam," and devised overhead a 
marvel of acoustics which made voices and music audible "to 
the faintest pianissimo." 

On the great night of the opening (April 6, 1 885) , Adelina 
Patti appeared, supported by what the program termed 
"tenori, baritoni, and bassL" If Chicago proved to the world 
that it appreciated grand opera, Adler in audibility, and 
Sullivan in "seatability," proved to Chicago that their firm 
deserved notice as "civic" architects. 

A fortnight of opera, played in this pavilion to some 
75,000 patrons, persuaded Peck that Chicago must erect a 
great permanent hall to signalize its enduring devotion to 
the arts. But it should be commercially feasible, a theater 
encased within a hotel and offices; and in making it a landmark 
by virtue of a tower, the tower should contain still more 

105 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

offices. The theater alone should hold several thousand; but 
the entire building, too sensational to be called a "grand 
opera-house/' should in the view of the Commodore be 
named the "Auditorium." Chicago, going in for bigness, had 
to find big words to fit big dimensions. 

Peck was quite satisfied with Adler in point of the 
mechanics of building; but he was uneasy about the aesthetic 
judgment of a man as young as Sullivan. While Peck and 
Adler at forty and forty-two were conservatively middle- 
aged, would Sullivan at thirty adequately know what he was 
doing? If a Festival House, a temporary pavilion, was one 
thing, were not acres of unchangeable stone, by which the 
world should appraise Chicago, quite another? In the end 
Peck (and his committee) gingerly invited Adler & Sullivan 
to submit plans; but when in this same year, 1885, Marshall 
Field, the Croesus of drapers, startled the Chicago community 
by engaging the celebrated Henry Richardson to come West 
and consult upon an enormous "wholesale" building, the 
promoters of the Auditorium encountered further misgivings. 
Nevertheless Louis Sullivan quietly set about his design. 

His mother, soon after being left a widow, had given up 
the Sullivan "dancing academy," and vacated their house. 
Though she was as devoted to her sons as they were to her, 
and though in her immediate widowhood they had greatly 
helped time allay her solitude, she did not wish to encumber 
them, in their long hours of work growing always longer, 
with looking after her. She now left Chicago upon an indef- 
inite visit to her sister, Jenny Whitdesey, at Lyons Falls, 
New York. As in their girlhood they conversed in French, 
the language seemed to draw them closer together. Andrienne, 
retired from dancing, reverted to drawing; in October, for 
example, she drew a beautiful spray of the anemone japonica, 
with four blooms at different angles, and buds and leaves in 
profusion. She was at the top of her powers as an artist; this 

1 06 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

remarkable drawing would have graced any book of botany, 
indeed any exhibition; nothing could bear stronger witness 
of the talent which Andrienne Sullivan had transmitted to 
her architect son. 

He, in Chicago, went down in the autumn to St. Louis to 
address the Association of Western Architects on "Character- 
istics and Tendencies of American Architecture." Junior to 
most of the members, he was speaking in public for the first 
time. His theme was the necessity of originality if a style 
truly American was to emerge. 

"The ability," said Sullivan, "to develop ideas organically 
is not conspicuous in our profession." In this ability he thought 
the architect inferior both to the businessman and to the 
financier. "There is originality sometimes in an element of 
warmth tingeing scholastic formalism, or in a paradox of 
inspiration in the works of the uncultivated. We meet it 
where literature or music have influenced the architect 
strongly. . . . But our literature (alone of our arts seriously 
recognized at home and abroad) carries too much minute 
detail, self-consciousness of finish, timidity in all emotions 
unless they are docile or well-behaved, tacit fiction over the 
passions, exquisite rather than virile, heart and fingers rather 
than brain and soul, either an offensive simplicity or highly- 
wrought charlatanism. . - . The presence of power, as a 
characteristic of one class of our people, bodes well for 
architecture, if it be subtilized, emotionalized, and guided by 
insight. But architects have maintained the traditions, rather 
than promulgated vitalizing thought We are now in the 
primary department, vaguely endeavouring to form a plastic 
alphabet by means of which to identify our beliefs. The 
desire at once to follow and to lead the public should be the 
initial attitude of our profession toward the formation of a 
national style." 

Whatever his audience made of these observations, they 

107 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

knew they were listening to a young man of ideas. In an age 
when a numerous public, including architects, read the well- 
behaved novels of a William Dean Howells or a Thomas 
Bailey Aldrich, Sullivan gave voice to fears for the advance of 
American architecture. When his* name for a second time 
won notice abroad the Builders Weekly Reporter, of Lon- 
don, published this speech (January 15, 1886), but not the 
speech of any other architect at the congress his views lost 
nothing of their impact at home. 

Yet Sullivan himself was not finding it easy to plunge into 
that originality which he pleaded for. In April the great Rich- 
ardson, who was "fat and scant of breath," died aged only 
forty-eight, died of overwork and chronic illness, leaving his 
Field Wholesale Building short of completion. But his life 
ended as many an artist might wish his own life to end: at 
its climax. Already the Field Building was being regarded as 
Richardson's finest piece of design. To the entire Chicago 
School it bespoke emulation. Indeed the Chicago architects 
would have liked to say that Richardson was "their only 
representative in the East." For this Field Building taught a 
lesson in simplicity, and not least to Louis Sullivan himself. 
Yet what was there essentially American about it? S. Giedion, 
the Swiss, in his Space, Time, and Architecture, has made an 
ingenious suggestion, saying that the Field Building -i ' ' 
was neither Roman nor Florentine, but "the plain ana 
stone-wall dating from the forts of the period of the A . 
Revolution." He has called it "an artistic transmutation 11*01*1 
American life." 

The brownstone of this building rose to seven stories in 
a four, two, one sequence, the front showing seven windows 
rising to arches at the fourth floor, these seven crowned by 
seven pairs of windows rising two stories more, again with 
arches, and these pairs capped by seven quartettes of rectan- 
gular windows, to meet at the roof a decorated cornice. The 

108 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

side of the building was the same, but twice the length of 
the front. Rhythm, then, quite easily measured in the first 
four stories, "resounded" doubly in die next two, and quad- 
ruply at the top. Richardson had long grouped stories under 
arches; but in the Field Building he did obtain perhaps his 
most arresting and emphatic "mass-effect." 

"You mean," Sullivan, in a dialogue which he later wrote, 
had his "young man" ask, "that there is a good piece of work 
for nfc to look at?" 

"No," replied Sullivan himself. "I mean here is a man 
for you to look at. ... I mean that stone and mortar here 
spring into life, and are no more material and sordid things 
. . . wholesomeness is there, the breath of life is there, an 

elemental urge is there Spiritually, it stands . . . impressed 

with the stamp of large and forceful personality; artistically, 
it stands as the oration of one who knows well how to choose 

his words Buildings such as this . . .-show when and where 

architecture has taken on its outburst of form as a grand 
passion." None but Michelangelo had hitherto earned from 
him such praise. 

Could the death of Richardson, so early, so unlooked for, 
mean that Sullivan should now succeed him as first American 
There was in Sullivan himself no little confidence 
Caught sooner or later, on the score of his daring if for 
reason, to be entitled to such primacy. Five years 
ler had lifted the junior partner to the crest of 
expectancy. 

Sullivan had in 1885 moved to a quarter of town being 
newly built up. The address was 4805 Hyde Park Avenue. 
This was a district near the Lake. As the vicinity was growing 
quite fashionable, Sullivan by such an address gave a sign of 
fiis prosperity. And his change of abode to this part of 
Chicago was reflected, naturally enough, in two small com- 
missions that his firm obtained in 1886: the building of 

109 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

suburban stations for the Illinois Central, five or six miles 
from the heart of town, at 3pth Street and at 43rd Street 
almost as if Sullivan had arranged a stop of trains for his own 
convenience. It was worth something to have in this railway 
a brother who was Division Superintendent. 

All through these months, of course, the real energies of 
both Sullivan and his partner were absorbed in the vast plans 
for the Auditorium, a work which, if they obtained the 
contract for it, would require years of toil. Sullivan, inspired 
alike by the lamented Richardson and by the magnitude of 
his present undertaking, was moved again to address the 
Western Architects when in the autumn they convened on 
the spot, in Chicago. Propounding his organic theory, he 
divided his professional requisite into "growth, a spring song; 
decadence, an autumn reverie; and the infinite, a song of the 
sea." This seemed far away from stone and mortar, from steel 
and terra cotta, from a drawing-board with a design for the 
Auditorium. Sullivan, a young man dark and bearded, half 
bashful, half haughty, strode upon the stage. In the course of 
forty minutes he nonplussed nearly the whole meeting, whom 
abstract thinking pained. Finally, like Demosthenes declaim- 
ing at the waves, the speaker, not without a dash of senti- 
mentalism, intoned his peroration: 

Deny me not, O sea ... that I should garner now among 
the drifted jetsam on this storm-washed shore, a fragmentary 
token of serenity divine. For I have been long wistful here 
beside thee, my one desire floating afar on meditations deep, 
as the helpless driftwood floats, and is borne by thee to the 
land. 

The word was serenity. But the buffeted hearers were 
too near drowning to catch at it. Only three of the architects 
told Sullivan that they had fed upon his words. One of these 
men was the responsively imaginative John Root, whose 

no 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

conception of art was so akin to the speaker's. Another, 
Robert McLean, said long afterward: "It was his architectural 
thesis . . . those fundamentals held by his hearers to be but 
abstract symbolisms. A young man read a poetical essay . . . 
few understood the metaphor . . . but all recognized the 
fervour of genius," None, of course, was aware that Sullivan 
was at the very time of this conference translating his seem- 
ingly wild words into actual designs for the interior of the 
Auditorium. 

Before the year was out his brother Albert rose to his 
fifth promotion on the staff of the Illinois Central. Enviable 
though the new post was in respect of the authority it carried, 
it took him away from Chicago, and it meant the final 
dispersion of the Sullivan family. (Their mother showed no 
inclination to return from New York State; at this time she 
was "admitted as a member of the Universalist Church, 
Clifton Springs," west of Lyons Falls). Albert Sullivan was 
sent to the town of Cairo, 365 miles southwest of Chicago, to 
be Superintendent of Lines of the railway. The brothers, after 
four or five years of separation in boyhood, had enjoyed in 
Chicago a good twelve years of affectionate intimacy, sharing 
as young bachelors the same friends, the same diversions, 
sometimes the same books, and not a few of the same 
professional interests. Now they were to live apart once 
more, making different friendships, finding new avenues of 
activity. But of course they promised "to write to each other," 
nor did Albert expect for the remainder of his life to be 
hobbled in a place like Cairo, whose fame rested undesired 
upon the supposition that it was the "Eden" of Dickens's 
Martin Chuzzlewit. 

Fortunately for Louis, sole member of the family left in 
Chicago, he not only already knew what it was to live away 
from his kin, but he was so deep in his first "big" work that 
loneliness could hardly beset him. Toward the end of 1886 

in 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

his drawings for the edifice of the Auditorium were ready to 
submit. The building bore rather a Continental air, something 
in the manner of the Hotel de Ville in Paris, with a gabled 
roof, turrets, and a cupola in the form of a truncated pyramid. 
Since a hallmark of Richardson was the arched triple door, 
which had so entranced the boy Sullivan in the Brattle Square 
Church in Boston, he drew such a door (three-quarters down 
the side of the Auditorium) to the theater, directly under 
the cupola. A similar triple door he placed at the front, to 
lead into the hotel, but with an open-pillared balcony above 
it. As to the general design, whereas Richardson had drawn 
just a four-two-one sequence of floors, Sullivan made his 
segments two-five-one-one, the arched windows capping the 
section of five, then a single story, and the top story in 
gables. 

To this scheme, in particular the gables, turrets and 
cupola, Commodore Peck and his colleagues of the "Audito- 
rium Association" objected. Impressed even more than Sulli- 
van by the simplicity of Richardson's new building for 
Marshall Field, they ordered an economy that stripped the 
exterior of the Auditorium of all decoration. Sullivan tried 
again. He added a story, making his sequence two-five-three, 
with his cornice severely plain, and substituting for the 
cupola a cubical tower with offices, upon which he imposed 
a plain pyramid. Again Peck and one or two of the committee 
whom he controlled were skeptical. Before accepting Sullivan's 
plans, they proposed that they invite an expert opinion from 
"outside/ 5 an opinion that should deal also with the question 
as to whether the committee should engage other architects 
of standing to collaborate with Sullivan in the final design. 
Adler and Sullivan, though annoyed at the hitch, had as a 
firm gone too far into this work to demur. 

The external authority agreed upon turned out to be none 
other than Sullivan's old master at "Boston Tech," Professor 

u* 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

William Ware. Peck must have known that Ware had been 
Sullivan's teacher, and would in all likelihood be prejudiced 
in favor of a former pupil; but whether Peck actually did 
know, or whether Sullivan himself shrewdly suggested 
Ware as the expert best qualified, there is no record. At all 
events Ware was summoned by Peck, and proceeded in the 
office of Adler & Sullivan to scrutinize the plans. 

The reunion of the old master and his precocious but 
impatient pupil proved most amiable. Ware was delighted 
with Sullivan's monumental design. The professor wrote a 
longish report, to earn his fee acceptably; but the only 
changes he recommended were that for stronger unity the 
sequence of stories be made three-four-three, and that for 
a height more dominating and more useful the tower be 
increased by three stories and its pyramid omitted. To these 
alterations Adler and Sullivan readily agreed. 

Within a day or two it was early in January the report 
went to the committee, with whom in sober conclave the 
professor met. Peck, as chairman, austerely cross-examined 
Ware, whose high approval he did not anticipate. But the 
session ended in such a pronounced victory for Adler & Sulli- 
van that the committee ordered an immediate start upon the 
building, and, not least, the payment of an ample retainer for 
the architects. All this, Ware relayed privately to the archi- 
tects. 

Louis Sullivan, barely thirty years old, had made his 
career. In gleeful spirits he wrote to his brother in Cairo: 

Room 56, Borden Block, Chicago. 
Jan. 20, 1887. 
DearAl, 

The professor has come and gone. The contract for exca- 
vation has been let, and work is begun. The board has di- 
rected a payment of $10,000 to be made to us on account. A 
first assessment of 10% has been called on the capital stock. 

"3 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

It has been voted by the stockholders to increase the capital 
stock to $1,500,000, and for the moment peace reigns in the 
camp. Ware's written report covered five pages of legal cap. 
He very kindly read it to us at lunch before taking it to the 
Board of Directors which was very considerate. He asked 
us if it was satisfactory. It was. Couched in very conservative 
and judicial language, it was nonetheless a very strong and 
sound endorsement. He suggested modifications only in 
minor details. (These suggestions, he said, have commended 
themselves to the architects, A & S.) 

Very good. But the opposition, as you will see, had built 
up fond hopes upon this forthcoming report. At three o'clock 
Monday, Ware appeared before the Board of Directors, and 
was quietly delivered of the report. At the conclusion of the 
report aforesaid, as read by the professor, Mr. Peck rose, and 
the following dialogue ensued: 

Mr. Peck: Professor Ware, I judge from the tenor of what 
you have just said that you have confined your effort solely to 
estimating the artistic quality of the present designs, and to 
a search for a means to improve them in detail assuming al- 
ways that these designs are a finality in the eyes of this Board. 

Professor: Certainly. I understood it was for that purpose 
that I was called here. 

Mr. Peck: Very good. Now let me ask you this question. 
Assuming that you yourself, instead of Messrs. Adler and 
Sullivan, had from the inception of this project been engaged 
to design this building. Would you, in your opinion, have 
arrived at a result substantially similar to theirs, or do you 
believe that you would have produced a result somewhat or a 
great deal better? 

Professor: Had I been entrusted with the designing of this 
building, I do not believe I should have reached the same 
result. But had I reached such a result, I should consider it the 
inspiration of my life. 

The Board were electrified, and stared at each other, at the 
Professor, and at Peck, who was completely knocked out. 
A & S stock rose into the hundreds. 

To the question next put as to whether there was any 
reasonable probability that by calling in the services of other 
prominent architects, a sufficiently better design could be 

114 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

secured to justify the Board in such action, the professor re- 
plied, that while there was no telling what might be done, he 
thought it extremely problematical, and that in his judgment 
the Board would not be justified in waiting a couple of 
months for such purpose. 

The professor remained over the next day, pocketed his 
little $ 1,000, and spread his wings for home. The atmosphere 
is considerably cleared, and I am considered an artist, it seems. 
Poor fools! 

Yours, 

Lou. 

Though separated by hundreds of miles, the brothers were 
keeping in affectionate touch with each other's doings. Albert 
Sullivan, the meticulous preserver of records, put away with 
care this account of the first great coup which had distin- 
guished the Sullivan family. 

As the firm of Adler & Sullivan grew in prominence, and 
their commissions increased in number and variety, Sullivan 
resolved to "become his own primitive.'* In his Dexter Build- 
ing, 1887, he first broke quite clear of Richardson into a new 
simplicity, monumental, but bare of ornament; it presented a 
three-part f agade, the roof of whose mid-section made a plain 
obtuse angle. Yet it was from studying Richardson that 
Sullivan learned how to design to scale, how to subordinate 
decoration to rhythm, proportion, coherence. In the next 
year, with the Walker Warehouse, whose smooth-faced 
masonry and detail were more "suave" than anything of 
Richardson's, he was well on his wayalthough this building 
rose to only seven storiesto the style of a "skyscraper." 

This was a word coming into use in consequence of a 
tall Masonic Temple built by John Root. But in 1888 it was 
Martin Roche, next whom Sullivan had sat in the Jenney 
drafting-room fifteen years before, who not only caused the 
word skyscraper to be repeated louder, but who outreached 
Root in being "first." Roche, now to the fore in his own firm, 

"5 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

Holabird & Roche, in this year produced the Tacoma Building 
of thirteen stories, lavish in its equipment, and encased in the 
first steel-frame construction. In truth, the idea of steel frames 
had been part of Sullivan's first design for the Auditorium; 
but the engineer who worked upon the steel for Adler & 
Sullivan had left their office to join Holabird & Roche, to 
whom he carried the scheme. As for the skyscraper on a grand 
scale, it was at the moment being propounded not in Chicago 
at all, but well away to the northwest in Minneapolis, where 
the architect Leroy S. Buffington obtained in May a patent 
for the construction of tall buildings from a skeleton of iron, 
and the sketch he submitted as being practical for his views 
was an edifice rising to thirty stories. This was the first 
veritable skyscraper devised. It was not built; but since it 
set the whole profession agog, its possibilities, though rather 
in steel than in iron, could not have eluded the notice of an 
architect as alert as Louis Sullivan. 

In the titanic task of producing hundreds of drawings for 
the interior of the Auditorium, a task in which the designer 
was at last free to assert himself since Commodore Peck had 
not been so stringent or precise with Ware about the inside, 
Sullivan needed help. He was working in brick, terra cotta, 
marble, fine wood, gilding, glass mosaic, and tinted window 
glass. The job was in point of time growing beyond him; 
and to finish his drawings he required a young assistant of 
more ability than any of his present staff. A rumor of such 
an opening penetrated other offices. One morning in 1888 a 
slim lad of eighteen, with long hair and a flowing black tie, 
bright hazel eyes and a placid manner, presented himself. 
Sullivan may have sympathetically recalled his own eclectic 
appearance at the time he left "Boston Tech." The applicant 
was a young rustic of Welsh lineage from Wisconsin Univer- 
sity, where he had studied engineering; but he was now 

116 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

drawing for a minor architect in Chicago. The name of this 
candidate was Frank Lloyd Wright. 

Sullivan had to hurry off to St. Louis, but asked Wright 
to come back a few days later with drawings of ornamental 
details. When at the time appointed Wright returned with 
an armful, he found Sullivan on a high stool at his drafting- 
board* Over it he at once pulled a cover-sheet. Wright had 
been tactful enough to prepare a few "imitations of Sullivan," 
upon inspecting which the architect murmured "not half bad." 
Then Wright proffered examples of his own work, which 
Sullivan scrutinized silently, thoroughly. Of a sudden, Sulli- 
van swept away his own cover-sheet, and resumed drawing. 
Wright "gasped with delight," as he said in recollection, for 
it seemed to him that Sullivan his miraculous rhythmic 
pencil and the lacy interweaving which issued so swiftly from 
it with never a false line was like "the passion-flower in 
full bloom." And then, as abruptly, Sullivan said to the young 
man, "You've got the right kind of touch; you'll do." 

When at the beginning of the next week Wright wandered 
into an archipelago of tables in the big drafting-room he was 
assigned a place against a wall between two windows. The 
staff were in fact rowdier than Sullivan as a neophyte had 
found Jenney's men; but Wright was without fear. At 
half-past ten his new master, "in height barely medium," and 
with "a stride too long for his legs," came swinging in, 

"The height of a man," said Sherlock Holmes, "in nine 
cases out of ten, can be told by the length of his stride." But 
Louis Sullivan was the tenth case. His height, "barely me- 
dium," the great detective would have miscalculated. Sullivan 
was as original, as unusual, in his stride as in many other 
things. It was as if, conscious that he was not "tall," he 
would stretch the horizontal to offset the vertical. His 
uncommon gait heightened his personality if not his stature. 

117 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Pan One 

And Louis Sullivan took care that as a figure, an individual, 
indeed a master, he impressed all beholders. 

Swinging in he came, "with a haughty air," greeting 
nobody, but examining each man's work. Upon seeing the 
newcomer, however, he grew kindly, and gave him a Sullivan 
sketch to redraw and ink in. 

An hour later Adler made his appearance, "short-built and 
heavy, like an old Byzantine church," with a deep bass voice, 
and walking exactly like Mr. Pickwick, with his hands under 
his coattails, as he, too, inspected drawings at a score of desks, 
and "made suggestions in a fatherly sort of way." Wright 
had felt uneasy at Sullivan's gruff manner with his staff; Adler 
reassured him. 

As days ran into weeks, Wright became more and more 
aware of Sullivan as a personage who was brown. He had 
great brown eyes, with a glint of humor; his hair and beard 
were dark brown, the beard pointed, the hair trimmed short 
and a bit thin at the top; his clothes were immaculate- 
Sullivan having never forgotten the sartorial lesson admin- 
istered him in Paris and he always dressed in brown. Nor 
did he slacken very much in haughtiness, a demeanor no 
doubt nourished by so flattering a contract as that of the 
Auditorium, a demeanor perhaps the more pronounced by 
the somber hue of his clothes. 

Work on the multitudinous designs for the theater and 
anteroom of the Auditorium soon piled up too heavily for 
a draftsman as young as Wright. He asked Sullivan for an 
assistant, not a member of the present staff, none of whom 
would have worked subordinate to a boy of eighteen, but 
for someone still younger, from the office Wright had left. 
Sullivan gave his consent. Then, as a "pupil in architecture," 
appeared a shy and tractable lad, George Elmslie, who was 
only sixteen. He was a blue-eyed Scot who had emigrated 
from Aberdeenshire only a few years before, and he was 

118 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

living in Chicago with his sisters. Elmslie wore a look of 
engaging meekness; he looked a bit as if he were about to 
burst into tears. Yet he was stalwart enough; he was already 
nearly six feet tall. His brows were heavy, his mouth sensi- 
tive, and while he was only too quiet and unassertive, out of 
his quietude, occasionally, issued an Aberdonian's laconic 
little jet of humor. 

While these young men got on with the details, Sullivan 
proceeded with his grand conceptions. For the theaters that 
he and Adler built, Adler had invented a sounding-board, slop- 
ing above the proscenium; it was this simple device that 
perfected the acoustics. Sullivan now developed it, in a 
theater to seat 4,200, into concentric elliptical arches, which 
so projected sound as to be one of the wonders of architecture. 
Again, for the first time he caused the new "electric lighting" 
to be not an excrescence upon the building, but an ingredient 
of it: he sank the bulbs into his relief ornament. Reliefs not 
covered with gold he highlighted in cream. Down the length 
of the sides there were two tiers of boxes, the lower in his 
favorite series of arches. Three balconies, the first accessible 
from ramps underneath, could be shut off by movable 
ceilings, reducing the capacity of the theater to 2,500, lest 
singers be discomfited (a rather touching concern for the 
artistes) by a house half full. 

To ensure that his designs in decoration be carried out, 
Sullivan sent for his two old intimates of Beaux Arts days, 
Tom Healy and Louis Millet. They assisted in particular with 
the murals. A denouement that awaited the unapprehending 
architects of the Western Association, who in 1886 had 
listened in wonder to Sullivan's "inspiration address," was a 
restatement, in three of the Auditorium murals, of his "spring 
song," and his "autumn reverie," one of whose inscriptions, 
in gold above the proscenium, read, "The utterance of life 
is a songthe symphony of nature." The other two paintings, 

119 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

which flanked the first balcony, showed on the one hand in 
green and silver a meadow and a stream at sunrise, with a 
poet inspired by the awakening; and on the other, an autumnal 
scene at twilight in brown and gray, with the poet in reverie. 
"Sullivan creates his designs," said Elmslie kter, "by 'com- 
muning' with the problem far away from pencil and paper. 
This method he urges upon us all." 

But the breathtaking thing about the whole interior was 
the sweep of the five golden arches, across each of which the 
pattern was hexagon alternating with diamond, foliage be- 
tween, and the palatial gold leaf illumined from the electric 
gleams. Sullivan as he worked drilled his staff in his art. For 
example: "You will note in this shaded area," he told them at 
one time, "that the reflected light from below reverses all 
the shadows." It was the kind of nuance that very few 
architects of the day had the imagination to take into account. 

Cleverly he made his immediate impression by simplicity; 
then he enchanted the beholder by the marvel of the detail. 
At the side of the arches came a huge oblong of skylight in 
tinted squares, from which depended frontward concrete 
panels with the diamond motive repeated, but enclosed by 
golden rosettes. If the acoustics were primarily a triumph for 
Adler, the myriad inventiveness of the decoration, harmoniz- 
ing in ivory and gold down to the yellow satin of the chairs, 
made Louis Sullivan, designer at thirty of this largest theater 
in America, a national topic of conversation. 

In the hotel the great dining hall across the tenth floor 
took the form of half a cylinder, with foliated trusses, a 
stencilled ceiling, and the segmented ends adorned with 
terra cotta and murals. The room grandly gave upon Lake 
Michigan, Another room, a restaurant, was refreshingly fur- 
nished with a very long bar. The pillars of this room in 
carved wood, and its ceiling in molded plaster, revealed 
decoration entirely new; one original column at the end of 



120 



THE FIRST GREAT COMMISSION 

the bar suggested in line (not inappropriately) a champagne 
bottle cut off at its neck, with a capital of upcurving convex 
sides. 

From the lobby of the hotel, fashioned with ornamented 
arches and crossbeams, ascended a staircase panelled in onyx 
and gilded plaster relief, with its landings in mosaic the 
whole fitted by Italian and French masons. Originality, yet 
with delicacy in treatment and color, confronted one at 
every turn, in the smoking room, the drawing rooms, the 
dressing rooms, and in the four hundred guest rooms and 
suites. It was not in the nature of Louis Sullivan to relax or 
skimp at any corner; and here, in the Auditorium, he took 
advantage of his first opportunity for the full expression of 
his powers. The building signalized his rebellion against the 
unfitness of tradition in a world that seemed to him to cry 
out for an art of its own. 

For three whole years Adler and Sullivan had slaved at 
this work; if it was for Adler a killing strain, Sullivan, though 
twelve years younger, nearly wore himself out. Not so 
Commodore Peck, the indefatigable promoter. To the last 
he thrived upon "his preparations," upon the countless ar- 
rangements for "his program." Eugene Field, the poet of the 
Daily News, declined to compose a choral song for Peck's 
opening ceremony, but suggested a younger versifier, Harriet 
Monroe. A rather staid and schoolmistressy spinster of thirty, 
she was sister-in-law to John Root, and she wrote acute 
critiques on art and drama for the papers. Peck insisted that 
the word "Auditorium" appear in her poem. Miss Monroe 
knew better, but could only comply. 

On the night the theater opened, December 9, 1889, 
Sullivan, together with Tom Healy and Louis Millet, found 
more exhilaration at the bar he had designed than diversion 
in the performance. Yet the audience bore a national hue: 
from Washington came both the President and the Vice- 



121 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart One 

President, Benjamin Harrison and Levi Morton. In another 
stage-box sat the Governor of Illinois. But the one individual 
in the audience whom Louis Sullivan was perhaps proudest 
to welcome was his brother Albert, who in this autumn came 
back to Chicago to the exalted post of General Superintendent 
of the Illinois Central. The brothers, each in his way, had 
won simultaneous distinction, nor, come what might, could 
the attainments of the young Sullivans be ever denied. And if 
both had contributed to "the rise of the West," Louis, at 
least, was become a part of the annals of America. 

In the course of the inaugural of speech and song, Miss 
Monroe "had to permit" her chorus to chant the line "Thine 
Auditorium of liberty." Francesco Tamagno, newly famous 
as Otello in Verdi's opera, also sang. What the thousand 
selected guests on the stage had come to hear, however, and 
the four thousand less laboriously chosen persons in the 
permanent seats, was not Tamagno nor Miss Monroe's chorus 
nor the "few remarks" of the heavily-bearded President of the 
United States, but Adelina Patti. Though Sullivan's gorgeous 
ornamentation could hardly have conveyed to the prairie- 
minded Chicagoans any aspect of domesticity, the song 
required of Patti was "Home Sweet Home." For all that, the 
paradox of the night was Ferdinand Peck as impresario, in 
his white topper, superb, as if he were Beau Nash in his 
noontide beaver at Bath. 



122 



9 



CHAPTER 



lULLIVAN AT HIS SUMMIT 



ADLER & SULLIVAN HAD MOVED ORIGINALLY 

from small offices into the Borden Block which 
they designed, so now they transferred from the 
Borden Block into the Auditorium Tower, sixteen 
floors above street level. This whole story they 
built for their own occupancy. It was distinguished 
from afar by a- row of columns, which formed a 
loggia all round, giving maximum daylight to the 
spacious rooms within. Here, at the highest point 
in Chicago, the architects had chosen for themselves 
a valuable address. 

The Auditorium brought its designers their 
first commission outside the city. Before the hall 
was finished, Colorado ordered another kernel of 
an Opera House within a shell of offices, enhanced 
by an "observation tower" above a high colonnade; 
and Utah wanted a block of offices in the Richard- 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

sonian manner upon which Sullivan improved. To inspect 
these edifices in progress, in Salt Lake City and in Pueblo, 
Sullivan now left Chicago; but he was so enervated in 
consequence of his greater work at home that after his pauses 
in the Rocky Mountains he pushed on to California for a 
long winter holiday. 

He proved an exception to the usual lyricist of the 
California climate. If it was perhaps not surprising that the 
cold January of San Francisco failed to revive him, February 
in tropic San Diego its rainy season served him no better, 
and in that month he journeyed east to New Orleans. Inebriate 
of coffee, he could not sleep. But in New Orleans he fell in 
with James Charnley, a friend and client from Chicago, who 
with his wife was likewise on holiday, and Charnley induced 
the weary wanderer to accompany them over the Louisiana 
border into Mississippi, to a village on Bilori Bay, Ocean 
Springs, itself so sleepy that even an insomniac, they said, 
could not possibly stay awake in it. 

Indeed the scene promised just what the Charnleys had 
foretold but something more. In the rather miry roads of 
Ocean Springs pigs and cows took their ease; cabs and cab- 
horses sagged; nor could a trace of anxiety or of any thought 
whatever be detected on the faces of the villagers. But the 
visitors walked on. Beyond the houses and along the shore 
they passed into a jungle of bloom: dogwood, sloe, azalea, 
magnolia; from one great tree drooped a blanket of wisteria. 
The forest would have excited a timber merchant to massacre: 
cypress, maple, hickory, eucalyptus, and a variety of pines 
soaring as high as eighty feet. It was not this fortune in trees, 
however, that spellbound Louis Sullivan. His imagination 
reeled. "All grouped and arranged," said he, "as though by 
the hand of an unseen poet.'* 

When night fell, the sea breezes of Ocean Springs under 
a powder of stars caressed him, and at the village inn he sank 

124 



SULLIVAN AT HIS SUMMIT 

into such a slumber as he had not known since his days of 
wrestling at Lotus Place. In the morning, the owner of the 
wilderness called, Colonel Newcomb Clark, a retired Speaker 
of the Michigan House of Representatives. He said his wife 
was lonely in the forest. He needed neighbors. A little 
unctuously, he invited Sullivan to build a house or two 
nearby, perhaps alongside a little street prematurely called a 
"boulevard." 

The architect could not feel other than thankful for a 
spot that by the hour was mending his well-being. Charnley 
was willing to buy land if Sullivan would design a bungalow 
for it. In due course the two friends agreed to put up holiday 
cottages upon plots not far apart. "The Colonel," said Sullivan 
afterward, "made the price right, not over ten times what he 
had paid." But Sullivan and Charnley laughed that off; and 
they put their plans, rapidly conceived and sketched as only 
Sullivan could produce them, into the hands of a local builder. 
The land staked out by the architect for himself measured 
300 by 1800 feet. 

His own scheme was to clear the woods not only for a 
cottage, but here and there in passages, to afford a view of the 
bay, and of Deer Island, which served as a breakwater. The 
design of his one-story cottage, its roof high-pitched to fend 
off the relentless sun, provided for a long wide hall, with 
dining nook, fireplace, and bookshelves; guests' room front 
left; Sullivan's room front right; and the whole opening upon 
a veranda. The back hall, in a wing, should lead through a 
pantry to a kitchen. 

Sullivan returned to Chicago in March, fresh and invig- 
orated. So illustrious had the great Auditorium made his firm 
that he found their new offices, now so proudly settled into 
its sixteenth floor, piled with more orders than he and Adler 
could readily encompass. Wright, having worked with such 
skill and talent upon the ornaments for the big theater, had 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

been rewarded with a five-year contract. Sullivan made him 
foreman of the designers, who numbered thirty. 

In June of this year, 1890, the creator of the Auditorium 
received the honor of election to the Chicago Club (South 
Michigan Avenue), admission to which usually turned upon 
the question of whether the candidate was a "man of in- 
fluence." This meant wealth perhaps a little too often; but if 
not wealth, it always meant accomplishment. Membership in 
the Chicago dub was not merely the most desirable social 
distinction of its kind in the West; it was a gauge of a man's 
professional standing. There were no doubt other members 
who resided in the quarter of town in which Sullivan was 
now living: 220 Forty-sixth Street, Hyde Park; for this 
vicinity, newly built up in handsome style, had grown to be 
the fashion. 

Nearer Auditorium Tower, in Lake Park Avenue (No. 
3030), a neighborhood of houses and gardens whose owners 
were comparable in affluence to Louis Sullivan, lived his 
brother Albert. The case of the two Sullivans, thus far, was 
enough to baffle the apologists of early environment as being 
stronger than heredity; both had steadily won distinction, 
Albert having lived continuously with his parents, and Louis 
intermittently away from them. It must be said for the roving 
and unsheltered Louis Sullivan, of course, that the achieve- 
ment of his maturity was the more visibly monumental. But 
for the two of them to be thrown together in Chicago again, 
to see again 'Tather Bill" Curtis and the rest of their common 
friends at the athletic clubs, restored the complete happiness 
of the brothers, except in one particular. 

Their mother, whom they had doubtless visited from time 
to time in Lyons Falls, was diabetic. Albert Sullivan proposed 
to his brother that they bring her back to Chicago, where 
she should receive medical attendance more knowledgeable. 
To this end, the elder son planned to give Andrienne Sullivan 

126 



SULLIVAN AT HIS SUMMIT 

a house to live in, a house near his own. He bought a strip 
of land in the same street, Lake Park Avenue (No. 4573), 
and asked Louis to design a house that should be at once the 
kind that so artistic a person as their mother would like, and 
the kind that would provide for an invalid the utmost in both 
comfort and physical well-being. So essentially, with regard 
to women, were these brothers fond of their mother above all, 
spirit of her spirit, talent of her talent, that now, as late as 
their middle thirties, they evidently took no serious interest in 
anyone else of womankind. Men among men, they were thus 
far unmarriageable. 

While it so happened that the commission upon which 
Sullivan was engaged at this point included a number of 
houses, as well as office buildings and other massive works, 
he now for the first time gave himself to the lugubrious but 
lucrative architecture of mausoleums. Martin Ryerson, whose 
Jewelers' Building (1882) and whose store (1884) with its 
Egyptian-Aztec fagade had marked Sullivan's evolution in 
his rise, had died. Since his family wished him more than 
ordinarily commemorated (in Graceland Cemetery) Sullivan 
repeated the Egyptian motive, a truncated pyramid with its 
four main lines curving out at the base, and a smaller pyramid 
superimposed, the whole in blue-black granite, polished to 
reflect the greenery close by. 

This majestic work, when finished, quickly brought a 
commission for another memorial, but to a woman, Mrs. Eliza 
Getty. (The Getty family-plot chanced to be very near the 
grave of Patrick Sullivan). In this case the architect drew a 
cubical monument in gray limestone with arches in the 
front and in the sides, smooth walls up to the base of the 
arching, and the upper half of the walls filled with small 
octagons enclosing stars. A banded roof slightly overhung. 
The folding doors were in pierced bronze, intricately wrought 
in Sullivan's original manner, while above their arch swept 

127 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

three semicircular bands, foliated, and alternating with plain 
surfaces. All of the ornament he himself drew, in its full 
size. The dignity and grace of this tomb, it was generally 
granted, were bound to immortalize both designer and de- 
ceased. Frank Lloyd Wright called the Getty monument 
"entirely Sullivan's own, a piece of sculpture, a statue, a great 
poem." 

Between Wright and his master a degree of companion- 
ship was springing up, after hours. Sullivan's recreation was 
a monologue with one listener. (If there was more than one, 
as at Kinsley's Restaurant, he still dominated the table). His 
young foreman often lingered in the Tower until late at night, 
and as the two men sat looking across the lights of Chicago, 
and over the Lake, Sullivan talked of the Beaux Arts. It is to 
be feared that Wright, who was an abstemious young man, 
only picked up the notion that Paris was nothing more than 
the pitfall of the world, to be shunned at any cost, since 
Sullivan notwithstanding his athletic feats at Lotus Place 
for three years after his return had in Paris, during a mere 
five months of robust adolescence, "wrecked" his health for 
life. This conclusion sounds rather as if Wright were affirm- 
ing his own reasons for not studying abroad. 

Like John Edelmann, Sullivan in these conversations dis- 
cussed books, especially Walt Whitman, for he fancied he 
should like to be the Whitman of American architecture; 
and Herbert Spencer, whose Synthetic Philosophy he pressed 
upon Wright to take home to Oak Park and read. He talked 
of Wagner, singing for Wright in a throaty baritone the 
leitmotifs, and describing in dramatic fashion the scenes in 
which each occurred. On and on Sullivan talked, sang, 
gesticulated, verging to ecstasy, regardless of dinner, or of 
Wright's dinner, seeming even to forget that Wright was 
there. Only in time to catch the last streetcar home could 

128 



SULLIVAN AT HIS SUMMIT 

the younger man break away, having put up with Wagner 
and Spencer because about Whitman, he said, he did agree. 

But it was not in Chicago that Sullivan took his next step 
as the destined exemplar of architecture in America. Visits 
to congresses in St. Louis had brought him into touch with 
a rich and "progressive" young brewer, Ellis Wainwright. 
This man, an amiable, good-looking citizen whose eye com- 
bined humor and calculation, was the namesake of an uncle, 
a pioneer who had migrated sixty years before from Pitts- 
burgh, been joined a bit later by his brother Samuel, and 
founded the family fortune in beer. It was Samuel's son whom 
Sullivan now met. Wainwright not only collected paintings 
of the Barbizon school Corot, Diaz, Millet and the bronzes 
of Antoine Barye, but he perceived the worth of architecture. 
Temperamentally he was the ideal client for Sullivan; both 
loved art. Full of enthusiasm, Wainwright asked the visitor 
from Chicago for a building, of about ten stories, to embody 
the newest practice in "skyscraper" design, and to occupy 
a generous site at a corner. Sullivan looked at the property a 
long time, taking imaginative measure of it 

As he returned to Chicago he grew aware that Wain- 
wright's aesthetic ardor, all too rare in a businessman, had 
kindled his own creative fancy. Yet the outlines for this new 
structure in St. Louis did not flame to his vision at once. 
Whereupon Sullivan followed the prescription he laid down 
to his own staff: he went for a walk up Michigan Avenue, to 
"commune" with the proposition "far away from paper and 
pencil." As he moved on in those strides too long for his 
legs, the whole building, in shape and style, came to him. "It 
was with that," said Sullivan afterward, "that I "broke. 5 " The 
simile might have been of stars bursting from a rocket of 
fireworks. 

He sped back to the Auditorium Tower. With miraculous 

129 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart One 

speed, "in profile and in scheme," he sketched a plan for the 
Wainwright Building. "It was a very sudden and volcanic 
design," Sullivan recalled, "made literally in three minutes." 

He took his drawing-board in to his young foreman (who 
occupied a small room adjoining Sullivan's), upon whose 
desk he threw it down. Instantly there came to Frank Lloyd 
Wright the authentic thrill of his experience: "I was perfectly 
aware of what had happened. This was the great Louis Sulli- 
van moment. The skyscraper as a new thing beneath the 
sun ... with virtue, individuality, beauty all its own, as the 
tall building was born." What struck Wright foremost was 
the astonishing vertical unity, quite contrary to the old 
designs "built up in layers." 

Though the Wainwright Building was to face the street as 
a solid block, its actual form, to permit a "light-court" from 
the rear, was to be three sides of a square. Upon the two lower 
stories, severely plain in brown sandstone, rose continuous 
piers of red brick, and between these piers, spandrel panels, 
set back, in red terra cotta, which Sullivan ornately decorated 
in relief; but with each story he varied both the design and 
its scale. It was the setting-back of these panels, to emphasize 
the towering reach of the piers, that made the building a 
milestone in architecture. 

Further distinction lay in the great corner piers, over 
seven feet wide, thrice the width of the piers between the 
windows. To finish off his "monument" the designer fash- 
ioned a tenth story no less novel: above the ninth story a band, 
or "string-course," marked the edge of a frieze of elaborate 
leafage, a frieze high enough not only to form the tenth 
story, but to allow small round windows to peep through 
the scrolls. 

Hitherto, as Wright commented, architects had been 
"fighting tallness instead of gracefully and honestly accepting 

130 



SULLIVAN AT HIS SUMMIT 

it." Sullivan it was who "first perceived the tall building as 
a harmonious unit its height triumphant." 

Sullivan himself, later on, explained his theory in an essay, 
"The Tall Office-Building Artistically Considered," an essay 
which with all the force of simplicity made his point. "What 
is the chief characteristic of the tall office-building? ... it is 
lofty. This loftiness is to the artist-nature its thrilling aspect. 
... It must be in turn the dominant chord in his expression 
of it. ... The force and power of altitude ... the glory and 
pride of exaltation must be in it ... every inch a proud and 
soaring thing ... a unit without a single dissenting line." He 
believed that in the Wainwright Building he had arrived at 
"the beginning of a logical and poetic expression of the 
metallic-frame construction." As soon as the edifice began to 
take shape, late in 1890, his fellow architects, at least in 
Chicago, confirmed Sullivan's belief. The expressiveness in 
the "frontal divisions" of the Wainwright was unmistaken, 
and unmistakable. 

Curiously striding about in the Tower like a long-legged 
bird, Sullivan kept a sharp eye upon young Wright, on whom 
he increasingly depended to originate a detail, and whose 
tendency was to insinuate into Sullivan's "efflorescence" a 
geometric design as being less sentimental. "Bring it alive, 
man!" Sullivan objected. "Make it live! Take care of the 
terminals, Wright. The rest will take care of itself." Not 
altogether unwilling, Wright saw that he had to become 
"a good pencil in the Master's hand." And the self-expression 
of Sullivan was now "as complete as Wagner, or as the period 
ornamentation of any of tie great styles." The pupil at 
length agreed that even Herber Spencer, added to Walt 
Whitman, made "not such a strange pair to draw to." That 
heavy volume of Synthetic Philosophy, lugged home to Oak 
Park, had left its dent, after all. 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part One 

Before this year of Sullivan's triumphs had ended, the 
Congress at Washington had authorized a World's Fair, to 
be held in Chicago. This Fair, to commemorate the quad- 
ricentennial of the discovery of America, was to display the 
artistry of all nations, at a site on the south shore of Lake 
Michigan, the finished effect of which was to be a city in 
itself. A preliminary committee, casting about for qualified 
men as directors, pitched upon the architects Burnham and 
Root, as the firm who had produced the largest amount of 
recent work. Root, being of course the more talented of the 
partners, took charge as consulting architect, while Burnham 
became chief of construction. 

John Root, in high excitement, bustling with energy, 
teeming with ideas, spent the autumn trudging round a 
marsh (Jackson Park) and staking out the grounds which 
were to enclose a lagoon, with estuaries and bridges, islands 
and waterfalls. The sketch of this layout Root called his 
"shirt plan." His fixed purpose was to rear up an architecture, 
facing the lagoon, that would express "American life and 
character." To this end he strongly advocated in the proposed 
buildings, as befitted an exhibition, a far ampler use of color 
than had hitherto been the practice. He conferred with 
Sullivan, who, upon these major points of color and of 
original American art, enthusiastically agreed 

The Fair committee hoped that to the enhancement of 
Chicago the entire work could be divided among local archi- 
tects. Sullivan thought Burnham & Root alone could do it if 
they had ten years at their disposal But the Fair had to be 
opened not later than 1893. Upon deliberation, those in 
command voted away, perhaps unwittingly, the independ- 
ence, not to say the rising supremacy, of the "Chicago 
School," They agreed to invite five Eastern architects to 
join five from the West, not only to expedite the great work, 

13* 



SULLIVAN AT HIS SUMMIT 

but at the same time this was their excuse to make the Fair 
national in its conception, and, therefore national in its appeal 
both to Americans and to foreigners. 

It is nowhere recorded that Louis Sullivan, at this stage, 
opposed the inclusion of the Eastern architects; he was relying 
upon a kind of teamwork with John Root to ensure that the 
tone of indigenous American art in the buildings should 
prevail. But the incursion of the Easterners, as any man who 
had originated such bold departures from "New York style" 
as the Auditorium, the Getty mausoleum, and the Wainwright 
Building may well have feared, was bound to contest the 
incipient leadership of Sullivan in American architecture. It 
was the first misfortune to a genius so mature in achieve- 
ment, though so young in years. 



133 



PART TWO 



CHAPTER 



OSS OF AN ALLY 



T 

JLHE EASTERNERS ELECTED WERE RICHARD HUNT, 

George Post, and Charles McKim of New York, 
and R. S. Peabody and Henry Van Brunt of Boston. 
Hunt, as president of die American Institute of 
Architects, as undisputed head of the profession 
since the death of Richardson, and as teacher of not 
a few architects already long prominent, was an 
inevitable choice. Since Van Brunt and Post were 
old pupils of Hunt, and since both Peabody and 
McKim had been fellow students at the Beaux Arts 
not long after Hunt, the quintette were congenial. 
(Although Van Brunt as architect for the Union 
Pacific Railway was now practicing in Kansas City, 
he was still very much an Easterner, as in the day 
of his partnership with Sullivan's old professor 
William Ware at "Boston Tech")- The Chicagoans 
appointed were Sullivan, his former employer 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

Jenney, Burling, Ives Cobb, and Solon Spencer Beman (in 
whose office also the nomadic John Edelmann had been in 
1884 a luminary). Each of the ten was to design a building; 
but Burnham & Root, by contributing an eleventh building 
ex-officio, thought to tip the balance slightly in favor of the 
West. 

On New Year's Day, 1891, Root, ebullient with his "shirt 
plan" in his bag, journeyed to New York to meet the Eastern 
architects. He found them reserved, searching, almost skepti- 
cal. Could Chicago make of a World's Fair anything but a 
"cattle-show"? But none could long resist the enthusiasm and 
the winsomeness, the merriment, above all the professional 
insight, of a man like John Root. Overnight he subdued their 
criticism, until in the end they accepted his apportionment 
of the grounds, promised their cooperation, and agreed to 
travel to Chicago for a conference with the Western archi- 
tects to begin formally on January 12. Root in his unabated 
high spirits then left New York for a visit of a day or two at 
his old home in Atlanta, Georgia. 

After an absence from Chicago of little over a week he 
was back, jubilant but exhausted. He was too fat; for years 
he had taken no holiday other than a short fortnight by the 
sea. His very work was holiday to him, regardless of his 
health. With no little impatience he now awaited the coming 
of his distinguished colleagues from the East. These gentle- 
men, en route to Chicago, were at the moment agreeing 
among themselves that the style of the buildings at the Fair, 
so far from being American or anything else original, must 
conform in its general lines to "Roman classic." 

Arriving on the Saturday, January 10, the visitors met 
with Van Brunt from Kansas City, and then joined the 
Chicagoans Root, Sullivan, and the others, all assembling in 
the offices of Burnham & Root for an informal meeting on 
preliminaries. If almost strangers to Sullivan, except Hunt and 

138 



LOSS OF AN ALLY 

possibly Van Brunt, the guests were readily distinguishable 
by him: Hunt, the grand duke with the blunt humor, was 
quite conscious that upon his broad shoulders had fallen the 
mantle of Richardson; Post, the only man with a top hat, was 
a great bear who resembled Pierpont Morgan; McKim was, 
like Sullivan, a bit of a dandy, in well-cut clothes and an 
Ascot cravat of Tartan pattern; Peabody, though of humble 
beginnings, was as austerely Bostonian as his name; and Van 
Brunt, stooping and gentle until roused, with his limp 
moustache and pince-nez looked like a seedy English noble- 
man. 

Among these personages John Root, tired out though he 
was, ran round like a boy out of school. After the meeting he 
conducted the Easterners to the site of the Fair, and after 
their tour, an excursion fatiguing enough, he invited them, 
together with the Chicago architects, to supper at his house 
on the Sunday. Root not without some reason fancied that, 
prior to the formal proceedings on the Monday following, a 
bit of conviviality might mold his guests into a mood receptive 
to his ideas. 

A night's rest pardy restored him, but not altogether, and 
he had to devote most of his Sunday to arrangements for the 
party. However, a joyous evening ensued until they lost count 
of the hours, during which time Root became not the least 
jovial man in the gathering. At the end of these rather 
overheated festivities he gaily insisted, not bothering with 
either coat or hat, upon escorting each guest, severally, to 
his carriage. Outdoors the night was bitterly cold, as only 
Chicago in January can be cold. 

To the distress of his friends, as well as to the dismay of 
himself, and of Sullivan in particular, Root caught a chill so 
gripping that on the next day he dared not get up from bed. 
The formal conference of the architects opened without him; 
he was to lose his chance of presenting to the Easterners his 

139 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

views upon color, upon buildings expressive of American life, 
character, originality. Hunt, whose office in New York 
Sullivan had as a boy of seventeen invaded, took the chair; 
and that boy, instead of John Root, now sat alongside him 
as secretary. Hunt was sixty-four; the youngster who had so 
long ago sought his advice was thirty-six. 

Daniel Burnham, rising as Chief of Construction to wel- 
come the visiting architects, unchecked and unsupported by 
the reservations of the abler man who was his partner, quite 
lost any sense of authority he held amongst his fellow 
townsmen, and with the apologies, not to say grovelling, to 
which Chicagoans sometimes feel impelled when facing New 
Yorkers, literally handed over the architecture of the Fair 
to the chairman. Hunt feigned annoyance. "We haven't come 
out here/* he interrupted, "on a missionary expedition; let's 
get to work." 

Even as they swung into work the stricken Root's case 
was diagnosed as pneumonia. But the conference had to go 
on. The way in which Hunt proceeded was to frown upon 
"originality," which to him and his following in the East 
meant eccentricity, and to uphold the agreement made pri- 
vately with his colleagues in the train, by now expounding 
the correct tone of the buildings proposed as "Roman classic." 
Those who agreed with him, including the obsequious Burn- 
ham, and even Beman, piped up that the buildings, all classic 
in design should cluster round a "Court of Honour," in white, 
indeed with the whole group conformably white, of the 
same height, or in the architect's phrase, "of a uniform 
cornice-line." The layout accepted was two axes at right 
angles. While each architect was to design such a building 
abutting upon these axes as he preferred, the locations most 
to a member's advantage were thought to be those nearest 
the Court of Honour. 

Poor John Root worsened. Weakened as he was from 

140 



LOSS OF AN ALLY 

having been, in Sullivan's words, a man of "the world, the 
flesh, and considerably of the devil," he failed to fight off 
his malady. His rollicking life had left him with scant 
resistance. In concert with Root, who was the one living 
American designer to whose ability and achievement Sullivan 
allowed some respect, Sullivan might well have guided, if not 
controlled, the architecture of the Fair. And now, as the 
conference ran through its second and into its third day, and 
Root, gasping out his life, failed to rally, Sullivan grew very 
much afraid that he would have to fight alone. 

That he had a phalanx against him was certain. Louis 
Sullivan straightway found out who was running the Fair. 
Hunt naturally declared his own intention of designing the 
Administration Building, and to do it in Italian Renaissance. 
McKim not only took Agriculture, a building much larger, 
but was to plan the classic Court of Honour. Peabody 
annexed Machinery, larger still, and again to be in Italian 
Renaissance. Post, as if because he was physically the biggest 
man, picked the biggest building, the Manufacturers', like 
the French butcher who in selecting a surgeon to operate on 
him chose the fattest one. This building was to be in French 
Renaissance enclosed in a Roman classic screen. Van Brunt 
with the Electrical, and Beman with the Mining building, both 
smaller structures, likewise fell in line with French Renais- 
sance. Burnham, also obediently classic, was to spread himself 
upon the Palace of Fine Arts, one of the massive projects. 
Sullivan's only satisfaction was that, after Burnham, he among 
the Chicagoans was to be allowed the broadest space, for the 
Transportation Building. 

It seemed to him that the glaring mass of white as con- 
templated would in effect be so Roman that it must stir the 
dust of the ancient Emperors. This succumbing to tradition, 
this denial of American inventive spirit, this suppression of 
any autochthonous talent whatever, infuriated Sullivan. Junior 

141 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

though he was to the others, he took it upon himself, as 
Secretary if nothing else, to be heard. The result was unto- 
ward, if not unfortunate. Ckude Bragdon, a young architect 
who practiced in Buffalo, later reported upon the con- 
tretemps: "Sullivan pointedly protested against the parade of 
White Elephants at the Exposition. His fellow-architects had 
to 'discipline' him. They pushed his Transportation Building 
to a site outside the charmed enclosure of the Court of 
Honour." The acres allotted him, although near a corner of 
the lagoon, were staked off, as if out of bounds, beyond 
Hunt's citadel, the Administration Building, itself commanding 
the west end of the Court of Honour. 

On the evening of the fourth day of the conference, 
January 15, the sessions having really accomplished about all 
that they needed to do at this meeting, proceedings were 
terminated by word of the death of John Root. He was 
only forty-one. If the loss to American architecture was 
incalculable, the loss to the individuality of the World's Fair 
was all but complete. 

After the funeral, it was borne in upon Louis Sullivan that 
he was a lone champion. Not only had he fought for Ameri- 
can art in vain; but he had been penalized for his pleading. 
The one thing that he could now do, in defiance of the 
imitators, would be to load his Transportation Building with 
color, and to make it at once a monument to the memory of 
John Root and a declaration of American style. 



142 



CHAPTER 



T 



HE "SET-BACK" SKYSCRAPER 



s, 



SULLIVAN SWALLOWED HIS INDIGNATION; HE WAS 
now too preoccupied to do otherwise. For six 
months a work that he really liked had been 
absorbing him: the redecorating, after a fire, of 
McVicker's Theatre. Frank Lloyd Wright noticed 
that the side of architecture for which Sullivan 
always displayed a passion was the drawing of 
ornament. Watching the master's "own eager en- 
joyment with the pencil," Wright found how 
"rhythm in point, line, and plane" produced "unity 
via ornamentation/* And then, "whenever he mod- 
elled his own designs in clay, he got perfection," 
for the decoration marvellously turned out to be 
"of the thing, not on it." 

The McVicker's Theatre lent itself to just such 
talent. Sullivan worked into a semicircular pro- 
scenium plaster foliage in gold, alternating with 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

quite original geometrical designs suggestive of snowflakes 
when highly magnified Out from this proscenium rose seven 
rectangular panels, ornamented in salmon to cream, flecked 
with gold, and illuminated by electric gleams from bulbs 
deep in the f oliage, these gleams throwing light upon the 
inset spaces between the panels. The rectangles reached from 
the ceiling half-way down the walls. Under them, for the 
whole width, the architect set an oblong relief of pedestrians 
and horsemen, and under the relief, three projecting boxes at 
different levels. The boxes he divided by two pillars severely 
straight in line and capital, but again decorated to harmonize 
with the ornament above, while the enclosures under the 
rails of the boxes took the form of a set of diminutive pillars 
to match. Since Wright, by the nature of his own talent 
inclining to the geometric, could not keep his T square and 
triangle out of his sketches, he saw in this exquisite marriage 
of the simple with the intricate, of vertical and horizontal 
with myriad curves of flower and vine the satisfaction of 
his ideal in architectural beauty. A theater called for enchant- 
ment. When McVicker's opened, on March 30, 1891, the 
audience responded to the spell. 

If the engineering part played by Adler in all such work 
met the ear rather than the eye, as if to the public Adler were 
the minor end of the firm, the interlocking operations of the 
partners kept them continually and enjoyably in each other's 
company, not only in the Tower, but during their midday 
respite. Daily at luncheon in Kinsley's (often in company 
with Sullivan's brother) they refreshed their intimacy. They 
argued shop, as actors invariably do, and not much else. When 
Adler insisted that "conditions and environment determine 
form," Sullivan chided him lest the word "determine" leave 
no room for the imagination. 

Again, Sullivan as a foot-loose bachelor often dined at 
Adler's house in Ellis Avenue, romped with the younger 

I44 



THE "SET-BACK" SKYSCRAPER 



Adler children, Sara and Sidney, and on occasion presented 
his hostess with dynastic vases or figured linens, which he liked 
to see being put to good use when he came. Ever a jolly 
visitor, he played their piano, improvising; his extraordinarily 
flexible fingers fascinated them. Or he drew pictures; one in 
particular that diverted little Sara Adler was of a giant lifting 
a great ball above his head Adas giving his shoulders a rest. 

Nor did Sullivan confine his recreation to Chicago. When- 
ever a commission took hi out of town Adler did not like 
to travel the junior member managed to combine holiday 
with business. So much the better was it when in 1891 his 
brother's railway appointed him to design the Illinois Central 
station in New Orleans; a journey thither enabled Sullivan to 
go to his cottage at Ocean Springs. The big station, a terminal 
in tune with its setting in Louisiana, was to suggest a pavilion, 
in two stories of brick, with a colonnade supporting a balcony 
across the front, low gables in a low-pitched roof, and a low 
cupola. The effect created was not merely that of a place 
whence to board a train, but of an atmosphere of hospitality 
to passengers. 

A short journey eastward to the Springs now brought 
Sullivan to his little shingled cottage. Thanks to the efforts 
of the local builder it now stood in a fair way of habitation. 
Outbuildings remained to be done: a large cabin for Negro 
staff; stables, with bedroom above for grooms; and a chicken- 
run, to be screened against alligators. But it was the "landscape 
architecture" which demanded a major task of clearing. 

Sullivan wished to make a hobby of roses. On this subject 
his persistent reading was A Book about Roses, How to Grow 
and Show Them, by the Dean of Rochester Cathedral, 
Reynolds Hole. The architect designed for his grounds an 
elliptical rose garden, 160 feet long, with concentric beds and 
paths in its middle, the plot to be so laid that from the veranda 
of the cottage one could look across the roses to Biloxi Bay, 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart Two 

and watch the waters roll in, as Cicero used to "count the 
waves." The choice of flowers was well-advised; the bushes 
in this locality bloomed from early spring until Christmas. 

He also planned a circular pool, thirty feet across, three 
feet deep, and with a fountain, the pool to be surrounded by 
arbors and summer houses. A third ornament of the garden 
was to be a crab-pool, a hundred feet long; inlets of the beach 
teemed with gaily-colored crabs whose hues alone delighted 
an architect's eye if he could appreciate the uses of color as 
Sullivan did. Chicago may well have wondered how this man 
could keep up the tremendous pace of his work in the 
Auditorium Tower. The restorative and picturesque diversion 
of Ocean Springs in large part provided the answer. 

Sullivan returned to the Tower to engage simultaneously 
in four major commissions. One, a memorial, beneath the 
exaltation it evoked, bore its element of sorrow. Charlotte 
Dickson, the young and very beautiful wife of Ellis Wain- 
wright, died on April 15. The widower in his longing to do 
her homage almost vied with the Shah Jehan of Agra, and 
although Wainwright cherished no vision of a Taj Mahal, he 
did ask Sullivan, as a friend of both husband and wife, to put 
his utmost talent into a mausoleum to be built in Belief ontaine 
Cemetery, St. Louis. The architect responded like a poet 
moved to elegy. He sketched a domed cube, to be banded and 
carved. To this general design Wainwright agreed, and the 
work was put in train. 

A larger responsibility, demanding incessant supervision, 
was, of course, the Transportation Building for the Fair. 
Rhythm of color and form, though the materials were to 
serve only a temporary purpose, was the end desired. By 
obligatory agreement with Hunt and the committee, Sullivan, 
even though excluded from a preferred site, had to adhere to 
the Roman proportions; yet he determined upon a building 
with a character of its own, perhaps with a reminiscence of 
Romanesque and of Moorish he had never forgotten his 

146 



THE "SET-BACK" SKYSCRAPER 



absorption in the Moorish on the night Hewitt had stolen in 
upon him in Philadelphia and with so much color (as if to 
memorialize John Root) and so much flowering of original 
ornament, that none should take this building for the work 
of any man but Sullivan, nor of any country but America. 

His idea was a gate. If one went on a journey, one passed 
through a gate to an adventure. This gate, to allure the 
wayfarer, was to be a Golden Doorway, rising in the middle 
of a great shed, above the lagoon, the doorway being flanked 
by thirteen arches on either side, surmounted by a clerestory 
of smaller arches, and the whole set off by a short cupola. 
Really enraged at Hunt and his myrmidons, Sullivan himself 
was now furiously designing his masses of ornaments. 

The third piece of work in hand was the Schiller Building, 
for Chicago, to house German opera, but to contain about 
300 offices above, on the scheme of the Auditorium and of 
the opera house in Colorado. The site, in the middle of a 
block, was narrow. It necessitated not only a skyscraper, but 
a new shape, newly called a "set-back," in order to admit 
light to the offices lower t-h^n the roofs of the buildings 
adjacent. Rising to seventeen stories, the highest edifice yet 
devised to be actually built, the Schiller above its first six 
floors (allotted to the broader theater) took the form of the 
letter I, whose set-backs afforded the daylight essential. 

This expedient of Sullivan's was an invention quite new. 
The Schiller was a "tower," accentuating higher vertical unity 
than the Wainwright, and at the sixteenth story connecting 
the piers by arches, with the surmounting seventeenth an 
arcade which from far below looked like a frieze. Narrow 
enough even at the base, this design yet provided a theater 
seating 1,300. 

Sullivan having taxed his originality upon the exterior did 
not attempt, within, much that was novel. He built eight 
arches forward of the proscenium, semicircular instead of 
elliptical as in the Auditorium, and adorned in green and gold 

H7 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

(German enough); over the boxes, three on either side, he 
affixed lunettes illustrative of Schiller's poems. Much of the 
deigning he left in the capable hands of Frank Lloyd Wright; 
the master, in the heyday of his joy over his holiday cottage, 
vanished again and again to Ocean Springs. 

With the Schiller Building the era of the American 
skyscraper firmly caught the public fancy, and the East began 
to talk of the "multiple-storied architecture of Chicago." Yet 
Sullivan himself meditated upon showing off his set-back 
construction to more striking advantage. And in his fourth 
major commission at this stage he thought he saw his opportu- 
nity. If his vision should indeed take form, the rest of the 
country, whatever the counterweight of those architects who 
were opposing him at the Fair, should be persuaded to follow 
his example, and the Sullivan architecture in tall buildings 
should triumph in spite of all. 

The Middle West was peppered with brotherhoods called 
"lodges/' one of which proposed to erect a "Fraternity 
Temple" that should soar into the clouds far higher than any 
building yet known. The "brethren" bought an acre of land 
on a corner, for which site they invited Sullivan to submit a 
plan that should provide for about a thousand offices. Pursu- 
ing with delight his set-back form, he invented a structure of 
which the top view resembled the letter H, but with another 
line bisecting its crossbar. It rose 450 feet to thirty-six stories 
(six stories higher than the building projected by Buffington 
four years earlier). At the thirty-fourth story Sullivan drew 
a projecting balcony; above that, the plan tapered to a hexag- 
onal tip like a sharpened pencil. But the compelling things 
were the intermediate arrangements. At the tenth and twenty- 
second stories he drew deep set-backs, with the resulting 
effect of a cluster of skyscrapers. Then the floors above the 
twenty-second, forming die main central tower, took hexag- 
onal shape to rise in harmony with the top. For the interior, 
in which he did not spare expense, Sullivan specified, among 



THE "SET-BACK" SKYSCRAPER 



other refinements, mosaic floors, steel stairways, eighteen 
elevators, anda precaution for which Adler's ingenuity was 
called upon diagonal bracing against the wind. 

This was the boldest and loftiest building ever conceived, 
a building to arouse the wonder of nations, and, best of all, 
Sullivan's even louder retort to the rampant insistence upon 
Roman classicism at the forthcoming Fair. Not without a 
sense of defiance he now awaited further orders from the 
organizers of this "Temple." 

In September 1891 elaborate booklets were circulated 
depicting details of the grand scheme. Though the public 
was staggered with mingled awe and admiration, there was 
a good prospect of populating the building as soon as its 
accommodations should be thrown open. Yet the ambition of 
the "templars" must have exceeded their purse. As Sullivan 
waited, they found themselves, they said, unable to authorize 
the breaking of ground. The excuse put about was that a 
"new law** was to limit the height of buildings, and the 
thirty-six stories of the Temple would reach alarmingly above 
the limit to be decreed. 

At all events the advance of native American architecture, 
under the aegis of Louis Sullivan, suffered a critical check at 
a time when he stood in need of reiterating his primacy. For 
him to be balked at this passage in his flower was a reverse 
graver than the profession either at home or abroad appre- 
hended, graver, no doubt, than Sullivan himself perceived. 
Had he not established his name with the Auditorium, the 
Getty mausoleum, the Wainwright Building; and was he not, 
as soon as the Fair opened, for all the death of John Root, 
for all that smothering by the Eastern architects, to reassert 
American architecture, the original thing, yet once more? But 
with the Fair still nearly two years off, the momentum of 
Sullivan's reputation, since his thirty-six story skyscraper 
failed to materialize, was slowing down. 



149 



CHAPTER 



ONCERNING THE FAMILY 



OTELL, SULLIVAN WAS THE (UNACKNOWLEDGED) 
Vitruvius of America much as he himself might 
have disliked being compared to the architect fore- 
most in Augustan Rome. The Wainwright tomb, 
finished in 1892, bore some further witness to his 
distinction. It was of gray limestone, with a con- 
tinuous band at the top, the sides, and up over the 
door, this band most ingeniously carved in a 
tulip-and-leaf sequence. Again Sullivan drew en- 
tirely his own ornament, full size. The door he 
framed in the snowflake design in which he was 
no less a master. Four overall steps, with low risers, 
ending at plain sides enclosing seats, led to the door. 
The low dome, also quite plain, rested upon a 
stepped circular base. The only embellishment of 
this dome within was a single gold star set in dark 
blue mosaic. Both inside and out, the architect 

150 



CONCERNING THE FAMILY 

once again proved his kingship in the art of contrast: just 
enough decoration, but of the richest quality, against surfaces 
left otherwise emphatically smooth. Ellis Wainright, as a 
man of a certain aesthetic sense not unrelated to Sullivan's 
own, was grateful. Client into patron, he gave Sullivan to 
design in St. Louis a hotel, another office building, and the 
Wainwright house. 

At the same time, in the spring of this year, Sullivan was 
completing in Lake Park Avenue the house commissioned by 
his brother to be occupied by their invalid mother. The plot 
of land was small; at one side this house had to jam against 
a neighbor's. This made the more reason to design something 
that graced the spot. "Buildings," said Sullivan, "should be 
as individual as men." To the vertical oblong of the two- 
storied house he affixed a three-panelled bay window at the 
upper floor, the panels both above and below the sashes being 
decorated in scroll-work. From the arched door, again 
charmingly ornamented under the arch, enclosed steps led 
down off a railed approach. He set a square window high 
above this door, of the same width, and at the level of the 
upper sash of the bay. Perhaps the most arresting decoration 
of the fagade was a projection of the roof, like a huge 
mantelpiece supported by brackets, and its deep band orna- 
mented with squares, each of which enclosed four holly 
leaves set diagonally. But the final individual touch of the 
front was no doubt suggested by the ill-health of Andrienne 
Sullivan: she should be able to sit outdoors and yet remain 
within the house; wherefore her son designed, under the 
bay, an inset veranda, protected by two columns and screened 
by flowering shrubs. So it was that at every point in his plan 
Sullivan got the massed effect, as the English do with blooms 
against a garden wall. It was a little house big with originality. 

Most unhappily, the mother of the Sullivans was fated 
never to see this house, provided by one of her sons and 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

designed by the other. On May 15 Albert and Louis Sullivan 
were stricken by word of her death, at her sister's house in 
Lyons Falls. Only fifty-seven, this gifted woman had never 
been robust, nor had the climate of Chicago dealt any 
kindlier with her than that of Boston. Once overtaken by a 
fatal ailment, she kcked the vitality to keep it very long from 
worsening. Her sons brought her back for burial at Graceland 
beside their father. 

No cause had either parent, at their death, for anxiety 
over these sons. Not only had Albert and Louis both won 
eminence, but the family entire had remained united in 
affection, an affection which the bachelorhood of the sons 
had kept remarkably undivided. And peace attended the 
final days of Andrienne Sullivan, in knowing that these sons, 
far from her but themselves together, lived devoted to each 
other. 

The question of what to do with the new house was 
solved by Louis moving into it himself from Hyde Park, a 
sign, perhaps, that Albert Sullivan, who may have intended 
to live with his mother, was reluctant to occupy premises that 
would too sadly have reminded him of plans unfulfilled. In- 
deed he could no longer bear to stay in the same street where 
he did live. He soon withdrew from this other house in Lake 
Park Avenue to Kenwood, 4830 Kimbark Avenue, an address 
only two blocks from the house which his brother had just 
vacated. 

Louis Sullivan brought to his new abode a Mr. and Mrs. 
Lewis who had for some time been keeping house for him. He 
proceeded to install his books, his piano, his works of art. 
Here he had a shelf for his tattered Whitman; for Dean Hole's 
Roses; for Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra; for his dog- 
eared copy of School and Field Book of Botany, by Asa Gray, 
whence he derived many of the motives of his exquisite 
decoration. He had books on psychology and on psychic 



CONCERNING THE FAMILY 

phenomena. A dozen more books treated of precious stones; 
Sullivan was in the habit of studying their colors and the 
lights they reflected Again, he collected, like the painter 
Whistler, books on Japan and Japanese art. If in music he 
was but an amateur, he knew from his books its history, its 
theory, its harmony and counterpoint; and of oratorios he 
owned fourteen volumes, so deeply had the teaching of both 
John Tompson and John Edelmann, not to mention his 
musical mother, sunk in. And there were rugs from the 
Middle East, rare bric-a-brac, images and figurines from the 
Far East that he had bought either in his travels or from 
local sales. 

Eagerly he was now enlarging his collections of art. 
Frank Lloyd Wright, with the consent of the office, took 
certain hours off; he attended many auctions, at which he 
bought Chinese ceramics, Persian rugs, Indian statuettes, in 
the interest of his master, who had no time to go poking 
about salesrooms. The aesthetic judgment of Wright in these 
purchases proved as sound as in architecture itself. Within 
the Lake Park Avenue house he enhanced the elegance that 
already graced its rooms. 

In this flurry of ornamentation now amusing him Sullivan 
completed his Hall of Transportation for the Fair. Defying 
the mimicry that constituted the Court of Honour, he meant 
to invite the throng to modernism in the making. In his 
arcades along the wings, plain half circles with their under- 
sides in high color, he did away with Roman moldings and 
keystones, just as in the cornice above the Golden Doorway 
he replaced entablature with his projecting band. Since he 
thought in color, color in contrasted masses, he painted the 
long vastnesses of wall in red, yellow, ultramarine, orange, 
dark green. All the other buildings roundabout stared in 
blank white. In the interior of his own structure, Sullivan had 
to deal with a forest of pillars, like the great mosque of 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

Cordova. Each of these columns, down every side-aisle, he 
decorated in his own gleaming and graceful manner. A young 
student of architecture at "Boston Tech," Allison Owen, 
stopped in Chicago on his way home to New Orleans, to 
see Sullivan. "What are they doing at 'Tech 7 about color?" 
the master challenged him. "Most Americans are cowards 
about color." 

Inside the Transportation Building he provided appropri- 
ate settings for every kind of conveyance from Conestoga 
wagon to balloon, from a sedan chair used by the ladies of 
Newcastle-on-Tyne to models of the first railway carriage 
to run between Manchester and Liverpool, also of the old 
carriages which had operated between Stockton and Dar- 
lington in the same midlands of England. Finally Sullivan 
designed the gigantic reaches of this great shed to accommo- 
date four entire trains, the last word in American continental 
transit. His task was to form a kind of horizontal skyscraper. 

It so happened that the talent of both Sullivan brothers 
rose at once to this theme, since Albert Sullivan also made 
an original contribution to the Fair in respect of transport. 
Not for nothing had the General Superintendent of the 
Illinois Central given some twenty years to railways as 
machinist, draftsman, chief of machinery. For the railway 
coaches which brought the crowds hastening in from the 
suburbs he invented "rapidly-opening slide-doors," twelve 
on each side, and all trains so equipped were to swell their 
traffic to the Fair by the legend "Sullivan Suburban Cars." 

But the Golden Doorway to the Hall of Transportation 
itself, Moorish only elusively because evolved by Louis 
Sullivan's own genius, was the all-arresting sight. It was 
fashioned of five concentric arches over a triple door, with 
all the arches decorated in between, and the outer one more 
widely decorated on the face. These arches Sullivan sur- 
rounded by a three-sided ornamented oblong, and by an 

154 



CONCERNING THE FAMILY 

overhanging roof or lid, likewise decorated all round. Min- 
gling gold leaf with shades of orange, red, yellow, the archi- 
tect designed for the doorway alone forty-seven distinct 
ornamental patterns; the sea anemone, and even a frieze re- 
sembling decorated shuttles, found a place in his scheme. A 
semicircular symbolic painting of travellers appeared under 
the lowest arch and above the entrance. At either side of this 
actual entrance, as if supporting the arches, were fixed a pair 
of horizontal panels which depicted rudimentary forms of 
transport. 

Well had Sullivan carried in mind, down the years, his 
tracing of Moorish designs from Hewitt's Masonic Temple 
in Philadelphia; he could at least improve upon Hewitt. 
Something of the rectangular lines of the present fagade 
could be found in the mosque Jama Masjid, at Delhi; and 
the overslung roof recalled that of Seville's Alcazar; but the 
more authentic Moorish touch Sullivan placed level with the 
bottom of the arches, just outside the decorated oblong and 
above the panelled reliefs of travel This was a pair of small 
rounded and domed pavilions, railed off, with arched columns, 
and a dome whose base projected. To a travelled eye, they 
might bring back the washing-fountains in the courtyards 
of the mosques of Cairo, the fountains of Mohammed Ali, 
or of the Sultan Barkouk. 

For all that, Sullivan was as creative in his adaptation of 
these examples as Richardson had been in modifying the 
Romanesque, and the startling singularity of Sullivan's build- 
ing, gorgeous in its color and sheen, was the rejoinder he 
flung at the architects who had tried to quell him. His 
doorway to the world of travel and adventure bore all the 
strength of the symbolism that the Greeks gave to the hearth, 
decorated because its fire ascended to the gods. 

In the intervals of his stout-hearted labors at this task 
Sullivan found amusement at his house in Lake Park Avenue. 

155 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part TIVO 

Of a Sunday the Adler children liked to visit him. He played 
his piano for them, showed them his bronzes, his jades, his 
statuettes in semiprecious stone; he told them stories, and 
made them little gifts. The house was a museum, ever re- 
plenished with plunder from sales, or from journeys West 
and South. 

But he quitted Chicago for a week or two whenever he 
could, confident that he could entrust much of his designing 
to Wright's direction. Winter was proving kinder to Sullivan 
if he took part of his "time off" at Ocean Springs. He had 
a hundred ideas for dressing up the cottage. Preparatory to 
a holiday there he wrote to his staff to look after the trees, 
the stables, the lawnmowers. He was in a hurry to get on 
with his rosebushes, with a white wisteria for the cottage 
roof. And he was always dreaming of the white shell-road 
between the sands of Biloxi and the dark pines of his forest, 
curving on a bluff ten feet above the sea, the road that led to 
the bordered paths of his retreat. 

Now and again, especially since the building of the 
Illinois Central station in New Orleans, the Sullivan brothers 
visited Ocean Springs together, both of them combining a 
week end with a week or more of business, since the architect 
kept an eye upon the progress of his terminal under construc- 
tion, while Albert Sullivan as General Superintendent of the 
railway had much to inspect periodically at the end of the 
line. For one thing, the elder brother was now a member of 
the Mississippi River Levee Board, a committee in New 
Orleans that dealt with commerce involving both water and 
rail. 

There was a fellow member of this Board called Spelman. 
Not a Southerner, he came originally like Albert Sullivan 
from New York State, but from near Albany. Spelman had 
been settled for ten years in New Orleans, where he was 
interested in the development of land, and since the Illinois 

156 



CONCERNING THE FAMILY 

Central still needed to buy property for the varied purposes 
of a terminal, he cultivated his acquaintance with Albert 
Sullivan, who in fact was not a great deal younger than 
himself. 

The Superintendent was soon invited by Spelman to his 
house. There (in 1892) so eligible a bachelor met a family of 
attractive young daughters, one of whom, Mary, rather took 
his fancy. She had brown hair and hazel eyes, so often an 
arresting contrast, a fair complexion, and what is known as 
"regular" features. A shade under medium height, she dressed 
her hair high, yet in good Victorian style. She was plump, 
but no more than plump, and when she spoke, her voice was 
without rough edges. Mary Spelman at twenty-three was at 
ease with guests, much enjoyed "society," wore her frock 
well, and if in her tone there was a little something judicial, 
it sounded more the expression of firm character than of bias. 

Again and again Albert Sullivan went home with his 
fellow committeeman, but less and less to talk about railways 
and rivers. He fell in love with Mary Spelman. What did it 
matter that he was fifteen years older? Had not his own 
father been as much as seventeen years older than his mother? 
And what had that mattered? In New Orleans Miss Spelman 
lived in a certain social atmosphere to which the Sullivan 
brothers in Chicago never aspired, except in their clubs; they 
were "too busy." But was it not advisable that so high an 
officer in the Illinois Central should provide himself with a 
hostess who would know how to receive his colleagues? And 
Albert Sullivan was now bereft in family ties of womankind. 
He determined to ask Mary Spelman, who was willing, to 
be his wife. ''- 

His brother of course met the bride-to-be. She, as if she 
had not hitherto encountered a representative of the arts, did 
not respond very heartily to his ways. But the wedding took 
place in February 1893. 

157 



13 



CHAPTER 



A 



SERIES OF CRISES 



.HE WORLD'S FAIR WAS SCHEDULED TO OPEN ON 
May first, and to remain open for six months. 
Weeks before the great day, however, a panic 
struck the country more pervading, more wounding 
and distressing, than the one Louis Sullivan had 
witnessed in Philadelphia twenty years earlier. Banks 
closed, shops failed, factories ceased production. 
Adler & Sullivan had several commissions in hand: 
a warehouse, two hotels, ironically a stock exchange, 
even a bank; but a design for a second bank was 
called off. While the firm felt no immediate uneasi- 
ness, they wrapped themselves in the excitement of 
the Fair to ward uneasiness off. 

No panic ever stopped a fair, if both occurred 
at nearly the same time. Droves of individuals, the 
country over, had set aside funds for a holiday in 
Chicago, and they poured in if for no other reason 

158 



A SERIES OF CRISES 

than to banish the slump from their minds. Everyone was 
drawn to the "Transportation Exhibit," as Sullivan labelled 
his building over its entrance. "It was the only building/* 
commented the young architect Claude Bragdon of Buffalo, 
"which looked like 'what it 'was- an enclosure for exhibits . . . 
with an appropriate festal appearance." Yet not everyone was 
stirred by the imagination of the designer. '^Nothing but a 
shed," objected one American critic, "a nightmare of bad 
taste and wasted ingenuity. . . . The object of the enormous 
heavy archway is a mystery." 

This second kind of opinion, however, was annihilated 
by a delegate from Paris, Andre Bouilhet, who represented 
the Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs. Bouilhet, like Sullivan 
himself, did not admire as a whole the architecture of the 
"great city of palaces," which he found merely "more or less 
accomplished imitations of the monuments of Greece and 
Rome." He proceeded to inform his fellow members: "Only 
one of these palaces, which struck me the first time I entered 
Jackson Park, is truly original; it is the work of a young 
American architect, formerly a student of our own Ecole des 
Beaux Arts, Mr. Sullivan." Bouilhet thought the Transporta- 
tion Building "well conceived and of fine proportions," and 
with "the special merit of recalling no European building." 

The artist from France sought Louis Sullivan out. His 
Musee in Paris, said Bouilhet, would welcome a few models 
by Sullivan for an exhibit. Readily the architect acquiesced 
with a model of the Golden Doorway, casts of both the 
Wainwright and the Getty mausoleums, and a number of 
photographs of his taller buildings, the skyscrapers upon 
whose refinement of line he had stamped his individuality. 

Such recognition Sullivan knew he had earned; it made 
his toil for the Fair worth doing. Of the eminent Richard 
Hunt, of R. S. Peabody, of Charles McKim, all of whom 
had studied far longer than Sullivan at the Beaux Arts, 

159 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

Bouilhet requested no exhibits; nor did any other members of 
the committee, who had so subserviently concurred with 
Hunt, gain notice from abroad. 

Thus the renown of Louis Sullivan spread, both abroad 
and at home, to its farthest bounds in consequence of this 
single building at the Fair. Pictures of the Golden Doorway 
reached the Russian province of Finland, and someone gave 
a print of it to a young student of architecture named Eliel 
Saarinen, aged nineteen, from the Polytechnic Institute. 
Saarinen was so "startled by the power and novelty" of the 
Doorway that he could see in it a clue to the "whole 
architectural future." As if to make of the print a "guiding 
star," he tacked it to the wall above his drafting-board. 

From the Fair itself, however, Sullivan's acclaim increased 
rather because people in greater diversity and number there 
first witnessed his work, than because the Transportation 
Building as architecture so much excelled several of his other 
recent achievements. Yet, when all was said, the Transporta- 
tion was the building most distinctively American at the Fair, 
as well as the building most emphatically individual. This 
his senior colleagues of the committee were unable to 
acknowledge, much less applaud. 

The Fair of course came to an end before the financial 
depression, and the year 1894 grew more alarming than the 
year in which the panic had begun. Prices for corn and 
cotton fell still farther, a great Pullman strike in Chicago 
obstructed the railways, the unemployed marched on Wash- 
ington. Adler & Sullivan obtained only one commission, for 
all their success at the Fair. This one order was sizable: a 
skyscraper in Buffalo of fourteen stories, taller than the 
Wainwright; but no single building required a staff of fifty 
draftsmen and engineers, a majority of whom the partners 
had to dismiss. 

As if worries in the office were not enough, Sullivan began 

1 60 



A SERIES OF CRISES 

to suffer personal distress. In the months subsequent to his 
brother's marriage, the incipient reserve of his sister-in-law 
had deepened. She had perceived the strong affection which 
had linked the bachelor brothers; this she wanted for herself 
alone. The case is not unknown in many a harassed family. 
Nor did it stop at kin only; it struck at the men and women, 
in particular the men, like the old athletes of Lotus Place, 
whose friendship both brothers had for years enjoyed. Young 
Mary Sullivan did not "like" them. Albert Sullivan, so 
commanding in every detail that appertained to his official 
life, whether at his desk or hundreds of miles away, seemed 
powerless to circumvent the social dictates of this lady from 
New Orleans. And his brother, though only seeking distrac- 
tion from business anxieties, grew sensible of a diminishing 
welcome in the house in Kimbark Avenue. 

Louis Sullivan was a proud man, proud to his cost. If his 
sister-in-law was jealous of him, he seems not to have tried 
to win her over. While he was disquieted by the slump in 
architecture, an honor that reached him in the depths of it, far 
from engendering a professional humility which might have 
sobered him, tended to increase his haughtiness. Andre 
Bouilhet, upon returning to Paris, set up in his Musee the 
display of die Sullivan models. The work roused Europe to 
a degree that America had not dreamed of according it. No 
sooner had a gallery in Moscow asked for duplicates of these 
models than other galleries in other countries followed suit, 
and the Union Centrale had to engage a firm in Paris especially 
to fulfill the requests. In appreciation of Sullivan's art, the 
Union voted him three medals (gold, silver, and bronze) for 
the Transportation Building. Sullivan had won this recogni- 
tion, he concluded, for having shown the courage to stick, 
alone, to his minority opinion. 

Always egocentric, Sullivan now let himself become 
imperious. He had been absenting himself from the Audi- 

161 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

torram Tower some of the time running down to Ocean 
Springs as if uninterested, and much of the exacting work 
he again handed to Frank Lloyd Wright, knowing that 
Wright could by this time ape him so adeptly that the master 
often failed to distinguish Wright's designs from his own. 
But Wright, now married, with two children, and a new 
house to pay for, himself felt the pinch of panicky creditors; 
to ease his lot he recklessly overstepped his contract with 
the firm by designing after hours a few houses for friends. 
Sullivan discovered the "breach," and he angrily called 
Wright to account. 

"I won't tolerate division," stormed Sullivan, as Wright 
later recounted the scene, "under any circumstances." The 
firm had advanced the money for their foreman's house, 
which debt Wright by his independent designing had now 
repaid; but Sullivan refused to issue the deed. Wright 
objected. Instead of apologizing for a compromise was per- 
haps within possibility he aggravated the case by appealing 
to Adler, at which Sullivan only took added offense. Wright 
had to quit the firm, with the result not only that Sullivan 
lost his ablest assistant by far, but that between Adler and 
Sullivan themselves a ruffled question lingered as to which 
one wielded final authority. A little later, at any rate, Adler 
sent Wright the deed for his house. 

This contretemps left Sullivan in no very amiable frame 
of mind, and when in October the American Institute of 
Architects invited him to speak in New York his first 
address in the city of colleagues no doubt impressed by his 
award from Paris he attacked education, in particular the 
schools of architecture. Education, he told the meeting, too 
often meant suppression, the intellect and the emotions being 
held not harmonious phases of the soul, but separate antago- 
nistic things. No nature in which the development of either 
was lacking could be completely rounded. Since Greek 

162 



A SERIES OF CRISES 

architecture was intellectual, and Gothic emotional, both 
were one-sided. Architecture was not yet truly plastic, not 
yet responding to the poet's touch, therefore not yet at the 
highest development of imagination, thought and expression. 

Just though much of this criticism may have been, the 
speaker neglected to say in precise terms what the schools 
should require or teach. Yet the examiners at the Beaux Arts, 
in their searching oral interrogation to which they had 
subjected him in 1874, and in which they made him for 
an hour and a half disclose the range of his mind, had 
provided a clue that American schools of architecture might 
well have profited from; but Sullivan was continuing, thus 
far, to underestimate the value of French discipline (however 
brief his experience of it) to his subsequent achievements. 

If on his return West he did not pause in Buffalo to 
confer about his latest skyscraper, the Guaranty Building, he 
did turn his attention to it as soon as he regained Auditorium 
Tower. The new design differed from the Wainwright chiefly 
in its lavish decorations, inside and out, yet retained for 
contrast the simplest outline and the most expressive reach 
of the vertical. He made the windows of the top floor oval, 
and foliated their frames. There was here, no doubt from 
his subconscious memory, an odd resemblance to that old 
Jayne Building in Philadelphia where the arches of the story 
next below the top met the rounded uppermost windows. 
Sullivan's boyhood pupilage in that city was no transitory 
episode in his career. 

George Elmslie, the dutiful Scot whom Sullivan with 
shrewd foresight had welcomed to the firm as Wright's 
assistant in case "anything should happen'* to Wright was 
dealing with the exterior decoration of the Guaranty. After 
six years with Sullivan, Elmslie was at the age of 24 displaying 
considerable competence. But he had also betrayed a singular 
weakness: he could not resist the yawning maw of a waste- 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

basket. It was dangerous to put a wastebasket anywhere near 
Elmslie. Into it he tossed notes, plans, specifications, prints, 
sheets of sketches heedless of whether they might be needed 
for reference or comparison alongside a design nearly com- 
pleted, not to mention their usefulness in later years. "Keep 
them!" cried Sullivan, flaring up. Repeatedly the master had 
to search for particulars that were missing, while he berated 
the young draftsman who was no longer under the restraint 
of Frank Lloyd Wright. Yet Elmslie was invaluable as an 
artist on the outer detail of the Guaranty. 

Upon the interior Sullivan worked, and with gusto. There 
he did not follow his Wainwright pattern. A visitor to the 
Guaranty, indoors, would have been reminded rather of the 
Auditorium. It abounded in mosaic floors, marble walls, 
friezes, grilles, and wrought-iron stairways, in every design of 
which Sullivan exercised the ingenuity of a maker of palaces. 

A few more commissions of this size might well have 
knitted up the ravelled partnership of Adler & Sullivan over 
these shabby years. But even their minor works, their hotels 
and warehouses, were now done with, and in 1895 no more 
work fell to the office. Had Dankmar Adler and Louis 
Sullivan been thrifty men, or prudent investors, they should 
in their fifteen years of extraordinarily flourishing association 
have without inconvenience been able to put aside reserves 
to weather the slump. This they had not done; nor was the 
end of the stagnation yet in sight. The hard times embarrassed 
Adler more sharply than Sullivan. Adler wished to "look after 
his own" by taking his two sons into the office, one of whom 
had training as an engineer. If this proposal was in a sense an 
economy, it might have meant discharging more experienced 
staff; at all events Sullivan refused to accede. 

Adler, now turned fifty, was simply obliged, great as his 
reputation was, to look about for other resources* In July 
1895 a manufacturer of elevators offered him, as an engineer, 

164 



i.Henry W. List, 

Erandfather of 
ouis Sullivan. 





2. Patrick Sullivan, 
Louis Sullivan's father. 





3. Andrienne F. List Sullivan, 
Louis Sullivan's mother. 



4. Albert (left) and 
Louis Sullivan. 



5. Anemone Japonica, drawing by 
Louis Sullivan's mother. 




v. 



6. A devil, drawing by Louis Sul- 
livan in his notebook, ca. 1880. 



7. Mephistopheles, drawing by 
Sullivan in his notebook, ca. 1 880. 



8. Margaret Hattabough ffl 
Sullivan, married to Louis 
Sullivan, July i, 1899- 





9. Albert W. Sullivan. 




io. Louis Sullivan at forty-four. 




ii. Dankmar Adler. 



12. Frank Lloyd Wright, 1897. 




15. The Chicago Auditorium, entrance. 




1 6. The Chicago Auditorium, restored banquet hall. 



JjJ if 

^in^g ?* 




i. Walker Warehouse, exterior detail. 





19. Walker Warehouse, exterior detail, 





20. Wainwright Building, St. Louis, 1890-1891. 




2i. Stable, Ocean Springs, Miss., 1890. 




22. Louis Sullivan's cottage at Ocean Springs (as it appears today). 



V5 CJ 

1L 

x s 
.a e ~ 



rt GO 

s 

*S>* d 






**** 



26. Schiller Building, Chicago, 1891-1892, perspective. 




27. Schiller Building, theatre. 





bo 

a 
u 



U 



C 

I 
I 




O ao 

' 



2 o 

5*5 

* 












30. Original sketch by Louis Sullivan for door 
plate in Guaranty Building, Buffalo, 1894- 
1895. 



31. Door plate, Guaranty Building. 



: ,./X$<* . 

WV : 

, j* 4 TJd , * 

' * - 1 >V 6/ /* -* 

>el^ 

-' ^ ,; "' 



i 



r ,1' 
^ii. 
A**-' 
/W' 

/T^- ' 

M H '" 
, 4* ** , 



fl! 



W 

^ 




3 1. Guaranty Building. 

T 



'3 





33- Bayard (now Condict) Building, New York, 1897-1898. 




34. Gage Building (at right), Chicago, 1898-1899. 




35- Schlesinger and Mayer (now Carson Pine Scott) store, Chicago. 
Nine story section, 1899; corner section, 1902-1903. 




}6. Schlesinger and Mayer store, detail view of entrance and lower stor 




41. Merchants' National Bank (now Poweshiek County National Bank), 
Grinnell, Iowa, 1914. 



X;Xrrf.;V '.xVJj.^;.v 




42. People's Savings and Loan Association Bank, Sidney, Ohio, 1917-1918. 







43. Farmers 1 and Merchants' Union Bank, Columbus, Wis., 1919. 







I 






'. 






44. "Values of Parallel Planes"- 
original drawing by Louis Sulli- 
van for A System of Architec- 
tural Ornament, 1924. 



a lucrative post both as designer and as sales agent. Though 
ordinary commerce did not appeal to such a man as Adler, he 
could ill afford to decline. With sorrow he withdrew from 
his partnership, indeed from the profession altogether, and 
in an architectural magazine he so announced. 

This break was not so much a case of Sullivan dropping 
the pilot, as it was of Sullivan, himself the pilot, dropping 
the man down below who was chief engineer, and who had 
made the ship move. Adler, who did most of the talking with 
clients, had at every turn backed Sullivan's original ideas; 
otherwise Sullivan, from such unparalleled designing as in 
the Auditorium, for example, would by the ordinary public 
have been called mad. While Adler had let his partner have 
his way for years, Sullivan, now that the tooth of a depression 
had bitten, was not prepared to return the compliment 

On the contrary, taking offense at the dissolution, he 
accused Adler of disloyalty. Fond as Sullivan was of the 
younger Adler children, indeed of the whole family, he could 
not, being a bachelor with none but himself to support, see 
the stringency from Adler's point of view. Nor could 
Sullivan but believe that all in good time new commissions 
would flow again to an office of such standing as theirs. 

Defiantly, in the expensive Auditorium Tower, he did 
not replace Adler with another partner, much less stoop to 
join another firm. He was Louis Sullivan. He could continue 
his profession alone. Had not the clumsy Daniel Burnham 
managed to survive as "Burnham & Co." after so priceless 
a partner as John Root had died? 

When Adler withdrew, the Guaranty Building in Buffalo, 
on which he, with the engineering side, had worked as hard 
as Sullivan with the design, was still unfinished. Late in 1895 
Sullivan published the plans of the Guaranty without Adler's 
name, so long did the resentment of the deserted partner 
linger on. It might have been a sop to his conscience that it 

197 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

was the models and casts by Sullivan, not by Adler, that were 
being exhibited in the art galleries of Europe. 

Sullivan's position as a single architect was now compa- 
rable to his position in family relations. As he was without 
a partner, so was he, practically, without kin. Mary Sullivan, 
in the game of possessiveness which she was playing in order 
to dominate her husband, had revealed a tendency to "manage 
other people's affairs." Unkind in her surmises, uncharitable 
in her judgments, she had a sharp tongue. This the ex- 
traordinary General Superintendent put up with as if it did 
not matter what a young wife said or thought. Weaned away 
from his old friends, he was now about to lose his brother as 
well. Mary outspokenly disapproved of "attentions" which 
Louis was paying to the wife of a professor in the University 
of Chicago. 

The cloak of seclusion was enfolding the house in Kimbark 
Avenue. 



198 



CHAPTER 



D 



ISPOSSESSED 



IN MARCH 1896 SULLIVAN CONTRIBUTED HIS FIRST 

(and only) article to a general magazine, Lippin- 
cotfs. Its editor decided wisely, for in "The Tall 
Office-Building Artistically Considered" the archi- 
tect was writing at his best Often his prose ran 
to turgidity, obscurity, a wilderness of metaphor. 
His "inspiration" address, for example, which he 
had felt he must read to Frank Lloyd Wright, 
seemed to Wright not only sentimental, but "a 
kind of baying at the moon." However in the "Tall 
Office-Building" Sullivan wrote with his mind 
freshly focused upon the new Guaranty; further, 
he wrote in the fighting spirit with which he was 
determined to sustain his career single-handed. "It 
is my belief," he began this essay, "that it is of 
the very essence of every problem that it contains 
and suggests it own solution." Thus he completely 
discarded convention in architecture. 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

Sullivan went on to say that he made beauty an element 
of the practical. To ascertain the emotional quality of a given 
task, one must judge the height of the skyscraper with refer- 
ence to the buildings roundabout. No tall building was to be 
made tall merely to display an encyclopedia of architectural 
knowledge. A sixteen-story building must not be a pile of 
sixteen buildings, though nine in ten were, as if the architect 
had to "quote" at each story for every style and land. The 
skyscraper was a three-part thing: the lower one or two 
stories according to its special needs, then the tiers of offices, 
then the attic conclusive in its form the whole scheme as 
ordered as the Greek temple, the Gothic cathedral, the 
medieval fortress. "Form follows function'* was Sullivan's 
improvement upon Furness's "a building should proclaim its 
use," also Sullivan's adaption of Viollet-le-Duc's dictum (very 
likely picked up when Louis was a pupil in Paris) of the 
interdependence of material and mode. But the Sullivan f orm- 
and-function were inadequate without the explicit factor of 
emotion. 

Various periodicals of the profession seized upon and 
reprinted this article from a magazine so influential as Lippin- 
cotfs. Yet the wide notice accruing did not bring commissions 
into the office in Auditorium Tower. For Sullivan, unfortu- 
nately, was not quite Adler & Sullivan. Nor was he Daniel 
Burnham. The gigantic, blurting, hearty Burnham still "plas- 
tered big business-men with flattery." Of such bonhomie 
Louis Sullivan was quite incapable. Again, Burnham rather 
basely if not greedily took the view that an architect "should 
not go much above the general level of intelligence." If clients 
welcomed such constructive dullness, the crusading innovator 
Sullivan despised it, nor would he compromise with clients 
who disagreed with him. Adler, a tactful man, had smoothed 
over many a rumpus at the borderland of designing. But 

200 



DISPOSSESSED 

Adler was gone, and Sullivan remained stubbornly unre- 
pentant. 

Even when Adler returned to Chicago, after six months 
of trying in the East to sell elevators dismally failed, and made 
known his intention of taking up architecture again, Sullivan 
kept aloof. So did Adler, for that matter, although in the 
same Auditorium building he opened a small office on the 
sixth floor, with his two sons as assistants. He managed to 
obtain a few small commissions storage houses, factories, but 
nothing of the old grandeur. 

Frank Lloyd Wright, now practicing by himself with 
offices in the Schiller Building, of whose design he had drawn 
so many parts, went to see Adler in the Union League Qub, 
and begged him to rejoin Sullivan, not knowing of course 
whether Sullivan himself might consent to a reconciliation. 
But Adler was embittered. He thought in any case that he 
was being sufficiently aided by his elder son, the engineer; 
nor could he see that the mere resumption of a partnership 
would shorten the commercial depression which still beset 
architects. 

Wright nevertheless remained devoted, at a distance, to 
both of his old employers, and wished to keep near them 
though he could no longer be of them. One evening a client 
of Wright's invited him to dine with Daniel Burnham. The 
big architect offered to send the talented young man to the 
Beaux Arts for four years, then to Rome for two years, free 
of all expense (with a place in the firm on his return), to 
study classical architecture, because Burnham could "see all 
America constructed along the lines of the Fair, in noble 
classic dignified style." He himself had replaced John Root 
with a "classical-minded" associate, C. B. Atwood. 

It was already evident that, the sensation of Sullivan's 
Transportation Building notwithstanding, the spate of vast 

201 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

white structures at the Fair in French and Italian Renaissance 
had firmly caught the fancy of America at all points of the 
compass. The age of copying 'Vhat they had at the Fair" 
had begun. The whole influence of the American Institute of 
Architects was being thrown in this direction; when Hunt, 
their president, died in 1895, his completely conforming 
pupil George Post (Pierpont Morgan's double) had suc- 
ceeded him in the presidency, to uphold the torch of classicism 
from New York. 

But Wright, answering Burnham's proposal with thanks 
and regrets, declined to be "jailed" by classicism. He knew 
that Sullivan, at this moment, would step out of personal 
hostility to agree with him. He said he believed that both 
Root and Richardson, if alive, would have dissented from 
Burnham's sweeping prophecy, and would have fought against 
it. 

Foreign study, one may venture to say, would no more 
have addled the talent of a man like Wright than it did 
Sullivan's or Richardson's. Richardson himself, whom Wright 
so admired, had lived in France for six years, long enough to 
obtain six rimes the experience and benefit that Sullivan did. 
The question of what work in France and Italy would do for 
a young architect depended in the main upon what the pupil 
brought with him when he got there; if he brought inborn 
talent, the gift for designing, foreign study developed rather 
than destroyed his originality; but if he brought mere interest 
in architecture, mistaking it for aptitude, he very likely 
returned home an imitator as not a few American architects 
at this time had done. 

Yet, from Sullivan, Wright had already absorbed the best 
of the discipline of the Beaux Arts, even if unwittingly, and 
he was content with foreign experience second-hand. A 
stronger objection to his going abroad was that upon his 
repatriation Wright would for some years have pardy had 

202 



DISPOSSESSED 

to do Burnham's bidding, and at twenty-seven the awareness 
of originality within him, which awareness the handsome 
invitation of Burnham did not diminish, sustained his con- 
fidence of keeping his own small office afloat. 

While Wright did not succeed in reuniting Sullivan with 
Adler, the two old partners could not have avoided facing 
each other occasionally in the elevator of the Tower, if 
nowhere else. They were civil in passing, but hardly friendly. 
Little work as Adler was able to get, he was building more 
than Sullivan, who, in 1896 as in the year before, built 
nothing. Two structures which he proceeded with so far as 
to design, for St. Louis and for Cincinnati, never rose upon 
their sites; the depression of these lagging years seemed to 
have hit even the brewers, "Ellis Wainwright included 

* ^o 

George Ehnslie, loyal to the Sullivan office but uneasy, 
went some way to explain the rashness of his master now 
unshielded by a partner: "He could be arrogant and unneces- 
sarily decisive . . . prone to give advice where not needed, to 
good clients * . . he lost many jobs because he would not com- 
promise his ideals, nor play fast and loose with vital concep- 
tions of what was fitting for the purpose intended." 

This temperament, of course, had extended to the rela- 
tions between Sullivan and his sister-in-law, who, as Dame 
Quickly said of Falstaff and Doll, "never met but they fell 
into some discord, both as rheumatic as two dry toasts." 
Evidence fails to reveal that Sullivan's friendship with the 
professor's wife amounted to anything more than a flirtation; 
nobody objected to it but Mary Sullivan, who called it 
"improper." This alone was enough to alienate Louis from 
his brother's fireside. There was no open break; the affection 
of Albert and Louis Sullivan was dying hard; they simply met 
oftener in the busy streets than in the houses of each other. 

But in this year, 1 896, a daughter was born to the Sullivans. 
For once Albert had his say, and named her Andrienne, for 

203 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

his mother beloved. The infant seemed to complete the 
self-sufficiency of the family. At any rate her arrival, instead 
of providing the opportunity for f eHcitarions from her uncle, 
only resulted in his visits being the more deferred. 

Within a short time Albert Sullivan, possibly at the 
behest of his wife, made known to his brother that the family 
wished to move into the house in Lake Park Avenue occupied 
these four years by Louis. The excuse given was that the 
Kimbark Avenue house was not well enough heated for the 
baby. Only Lake Park, it seemed, would "suit." 

This ousting on the part of his own family was a severe 
blow to a man who in a short period had already suffered a 
chain of ill strokes from fortune. Since the day when he 
had lived with his parents, in the early years after his return 
to Chicago, he had moved seven times, and he had come to 
look upon the house he had built as his fixed home. Albert 
Sullivan could not bear living there when his mother died; 
four years had changed all that, and it was now his wife who 
called the tune, even when her brother-in-law was in diffi- 
culties. 

The complete estrangement of **Big" and "Little" Sullivan, 
once so devoted, dates from this year. Albert Sullivan had let 
himself be engulfed in domesticity, and the brothers visited 
each other no more. 



104 



15 



CHAPTER 



A 



LADY WITH A DOG 



F DDLY ENOUGH LOUIS SULLIVAN MOVED INTO THE 

same street, even into the same block, which his 
brother had just vacated. The address was 4853 
Kimbark Avenue, a big frame house of quite decent 
design considering the period These quarters were 
temporary. Now middle-aged, Sullivan did not en- 
joy being thrust again into camping about; but he 
was at least back in a neighborhood he knew, in 
which for five years he had lived before his Lake 
Park days. He could with confidence look round 
before settling. There was no question of loneli- 
ness, six miles out from the Auditorium. As Elmslie 
observed, "Sullivan was a bit of a recluse. He liked 
to be alone, to think and write. He was averse to 
social display, and when he drank, he drank alone." 
At any table in the Chicago dub, nevertheless, 
he was "the head," taking charge of the conversa- 

205 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Pan Two 

tion, and not very interested in what others had to say, 
least of all in the words of other architects. Oftener at 
lunchtime he took his engineer Louis Ritter to whom Sullivan 
delighted in holding forth upon the "philosophy of engi- 
neering" while Ritter listened dreamy-eyedround the corner 
to a French restaurant run by a character called "the Count." 
There they were joined not by architects, but by the 
decorator Louis Millet, and by the painter Fleury who had 
done the murals of spring and autumn in the Auditorium 
Theatre. Nowhere did the hours drag. 

Almost before he had time to miss the comfort and 
convenience of his Lake Park house Sullivan received, early 
in 1897, a commission as gratifying as it was surprising. He 
was for the first time asked to design a skyscraper in New 
York Long accustomed to look upon New York as the den 
of the classical copyists-Post, McKim, and the rest the man 
from Chicago may well have wondered how it came about 
that his old antagonists on the World's Fair committee had 
let such a troublesome outsider deprive them of work in their 
own garden. 

A possible explanation is that someone who did not quite 
accept the infallibility of the school of Richard Hunt had 
heard Sullivan address the Institute of Architects in New 
York a litde over two years before, and had gone away 
believing. This someone may have been a young architect 
of the metropolis called Lyndon Smith. At all events, Sullivan, 
upon arriving in New York to inspect the proposed site, was 
told by his clients, of the name of Bayard, that Smith was 
to be his associate in design, and his local overseer of con- 
struction. Such an arrangement was of course not unusual; 
Sullivan had worked with a similar colleague in St. Louis on 
the Wainwright commissions. 

He went with Smith to measure with his eye the place of 
building. It was in Bleecker Street, in from Broadway, and 

206 



A LADY WITH A DOG 

looking down Crosby Street, a street which formed the shank 
of a T with Bleecker. The owners had in mind a building of 
twelve stories. Since Sullivan's most recent work of compa- 
rable height had been the Guaranty, he again envisaged a de- 
sign somewhat on those lines, bold piers reaching to circular 
ornament at the top, recalling once more, in fact, that extraor- 
dinary antique, the Jayne Building in Philadelphia, But the 
present suggestion was only a starting point, and having 
sketched out very roughly for Lyndon Smith a plan to bear 
in mind, Sullivan returned to Chicago to engage upon the 
finished design. 

The four piers were to be fluted, and alternating (from 
the third story) with thin mullions in terra cotta. But under 
the arches of the main piers, the mullions terminated in 
small double arches, while circular openings, or "oculi," 
between each pair of the minor arches gave the effect of an 
ace of clubs. Typical Sullivan decorations were to surmount 
the main arches, up to the projecting cornice. Again, between 
each main arch, rising to the cornice, should stand the figure 
of an angel (indeed as between the arches of the broad 
Transportation Building) with spread wings. This mingling 
of the celestial with commerce, though here a skyward 
embellishment, may have been in questionable place; but 
Sullivan was ever an innovator as well in decoration as in 
his primary construction. 

From the character of the master as seen in this year by 
a new recruit to the curtailed staff, Sullivan was now working 
as if recharged with confidence. William L. Steele, a young 
graduate in architecture from the University of Illinois, very 
soon sensed the dominating nature of the head of the office: 
"We knew from afar his firm springy tread, and at the first 
brisk swing of the outer door we instantly subsided into 
graven images of unremitting toil. . . . We did not love him; 
but we had a great respect for him, and a great admiration 

107 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part T*wo 

for his vigorous personality. ... He did not care how much 
time was consumed in the drafting-room as long as the work 
was done up to his exacting taste. Louis Sullivan composed 
all his own specifications. . . . His method was to stride up 
and down dictating eloquently and copiously. His specifica- 
tions were models of clarity and precision. ... On the other 
hand, in his way of life, his mode of dress, his manner of 
speech, he was an aristocrat of whom any old Bourbon might 
have been proud; a hard taskmaster as well as a fine raconteur 
and bon vivant, he held his handsome head high." For an 
aristocrat, however, Sullivan harped a good deal upon democ- 
racy. 

It was in this spirit that the designer got on with his 
Bayard Building (later known as the Condict Building), 
trying the while to prevent Elmslie from throwing away its 
sketches. Periodically Sullivan was absent in New York 
delighting in a firm friendship which evolved between him 
and his colleague Lyndon Smith. Of nearly all of his con- 
temporaries Sullivan was disdainful; but he grew fond of 
Smith as a junior of promise. The young architect lived 
across the Hudson in the high-perched village of Palisades, 
and there, at his house, he and his wife frequently put up the 
distinguished visitor from Chicago. 

When the Bayard Building was finished, the Post-McKim 
set in New York may well have wondered, with chagrin, 
whether they had hitherto known what they were about in 
designing a skyscraper. They had not found how to "manage" 
its cornice; they thought, too, that a skyscraper must have 
arches at street level to express its weight. The solution of 
Sullivan to these questions was to ornament both bottom and 
top of a building with his graceful decorations. 

Russell Sturgis, architect to Yale University, admitted that 
in the Bayard one would find "the architecture of the future 
metal-building of our cities in the form which it must pass 

208 



A LADY WITH A DOG 

through if it is to reach any architectural success/* Mont- 
gomery Schuyler, a discerning critic who almost alone, except 
for the architectural correspondent of the Chicago Times, 
had long commended in America Sullivan's work, observed 
that the Bayard as a skyscraper furnished "a most promising 
starting-point for designers who may insist upon attacking 
that problem instead of evading it, and resting in compromises 
and conventions." 

The completion of the Bayard in 1898 nearly coincided 
in Chicago with a move by Sullivan from the house in 
Kimbark Avenue to an apartment-hotel, a move to quarters 
which afforded him more privacy and less bother. He chose 
the Windermere, a place well recommended, which at 56th 
Street and Cornell Avenue, facing the north end of Jackson 
Park, allowed a view of the site upon which his Transporta- 
tion Building had made history. 

While this address was not inexpensive, Sullivan took 
courage from his belief that the pall of the depression in 
Chicago seemed at long last to be lifting. In association with 
Holabird & Roche, both of them old friends in the profession, 
yet architects whose early inventions in construction had 
come to a pause, he was commissioned to design an eight-story 
shop. The building was stepped in three sections, of which 
the taller and ornamented f agade was left to Sullivan. 

If such work was of scant importance compared to his 
cardinal achievements, it was a long work, good for carrying 
his office into the following year. A huge millinery establish- 
ment, the Gage Building, was to stand at 18 South Michigan 
Avenue, along the lake front. For the first time, Sullivan put 
extra emphasis into the horizontals between floors, which he 
ornamented with spaced rosettes, as opposed to the piers, 
again fluted as in the Bayard. But the two piers (the outer 
sides of the fagade being left plain) reached to immense 
foliations at the top, almost like palm trees. Since millinery 

209 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

itself was a decorative craft, the adornment carried its useful 
suggestiveness. 

Of a day in 1899, near ^ e en( * f ^ work on this 
building, and as he was walking up Michigan Avenue, 
Sullivan encountered a lady who was out for a stroll with a 
dog on a leashu As one often does, he stopped to chat about 
her pet. But as may also happen, the man was actually more 
taken with the dog's owner. She was a fairly tall woman, 
with dark brown eyes and hair, like the brown Sullivan 
himself. Slightly less than Junoesque, rather a matured Gib- 
son girl, there was in her figure something voluptuous. Her 
face was a bit rounded, her hair well done in the prevailing 
pompadour, and she was bien-soignee. 

The bachelor of forty-two, until this moment impulsive 
in almost every way except toward women with the possible 
exception of the professor's wife, now forgotten desired to 
meet the kdy again. Before they resumed their separate paths 
he had no doubt made known his wishes on that score. 



210 



16 



CHAPTER 



JOURNALISM 
cl 



I 



^ THE YEAR OF THE BEGINNINGS OF THE WORLD S 

Fair, 1891, the proprietors of a rambling depart- 
ment store, Schlesinger & Mayer, who at State and 
Madison Streets occupied the most convenient 
shopping corner in Chicago, desiring to convert 
a fagade of patches into a uniform front gave the 
work to Adler & Sullivan. Distracted by the Fair 
and then deterred by the slump, the drapers had 
let their scheme rest unaccomplished. Now they 
wished to carry it out; and the architect with 
whom they chose to continue was not Adler, but 
Sullivan. 

He himself was pleased with the arresting hor- 
izontality of his Gage Building, and it seemed to 
him that in the present store, which required 
maximum daylight, he could develop to advantage 
horizontal windows. The proprietors approved his 

211 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

proceeding, first, with a nine-story section of three bays. 
Sullivan originated a plan in which the horizontals, or floor 
levels, were to be not only wider than the piers, but were 
to be flat in the same plane* Thus he broke his verticals for 
the first time, retaining the horizontals continuous instead. 
This innovation alone was enough to make the shop talked 
about. If the section proved satisfactory, Schlesinger & Mayer 
undertook to let the architect later run his design round the 
corner and down their longer side. 

In addition to this building, Sullivan now had commissions 
for three factories, "run-of-the-mill" jobs, but sufficient work 
to give him some feeling of stability. Ardently he followed up 
his new acquaintance, die brunette with the dog. She turned 
out to be of Welsh lineage, like Frank Lloyd Wright. Born 
Margaret Davies, in California, she had made her way to 
Chicago, and she appears to have been (in 1895) a civil 
servant, called "clerk of the boards," in pist Street, South 
Chicago, ten miles distant from the Auditorium. She had then 
married a gentleman of the clarion signature of Hattabough. 
The union proved unfortunate, and Mrs. Hattabough had 
now emerged from it. (Though her husband may have 
survived, he was not then living in Chicago). She was 
twenty-seven, fifteen years younger than her admirer, and 
exactly the juniority of his sister-in-law to Albert. 

That gave Louis Sullivan no pause. Wide disparity in 
years had been a characteristic of the matches in his family 
for three generations grandparents, parents, brother. All of 
these marriages had endured, even Albert's to the difficult 
Mary. And now the last of the clan, the architect, had found, 
he thought, his own marital destiny. In romantic, even poetic 
mood, he dusted off his unfinished prose poem, "The Master," 
at which he had not looked for fifteen years (the fateful 
number) , and resumed lengthening it with what his draftsman 

212 



JOURNALISM 

Elmslie called "his inner responses to the outer world," that 
world being at the moment Margaret Hattabough. 

After an interval none too long his wooing won her, and 
on the last day of June 1899, a Friday, Sullivan obtained a 
marriage license. The published news, with their ages, read 
simply, "the parties living in Chicago." On July ist they were 
married. As might have been expected, Sulliv|n celebrated 
the day in a fashion not common with bridegrooms. He 
finished, and dated, his long neglected prose poem. 

Probably he could not at once take his bride to Ocean 
Springs, since in summer the shore of the Gulf of Mexico 
was even hotter than Chicago. Sullivan usually went south in 
October. It is more than likely that after a honeymoon 
somewhere in the north he introduced Margaret (though 
earlier than October) to the cottage, and to its rose garden. 

The problem in this tropic spot was not how to make 
plants grow, but how to prevent their luxuriance from run- 
ning dense and rank over the land. Pruning or uprooting 
rather than cultivation was the task of the gardeners* All 
round the cottage grew snow-white dogwood, wild honey- 
suckle, wild plum, bushes of azaleas, and the catalpa and 
palmetto of tie region. Spanish moss hung spectrally from 
the trees. Litde flowers, white, violet, red, peeped up from 
the grass. With his roses in their concentric paths and beds 
Sullivan had progressed until some of his vines reached up 
taller than a man. 

He was now in truth what Dean Hole called a "Rosarian." 
He was fond of quoting the opening lines in the Dean's 
book: <e He who would have beautiful Roses in his garden 
must have beautiful Roses in his heart. He must love them 
well and always." Sullivan even photographed each rosebush, 
as if they were children, on plates five inches by eight, and 
not satisfied with looking at his roses only when at the 

"3 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart T*wo 

cottage he kept stacks of these plates in the Auditorium 
Tower. It was what his mother would have done. At any 
rime, moreover, the pictures might suggest designs for his 
decorative panelling. 

The kind of roses he selected, many of them bearing 
French names, were nearly all crimson or pink: such hybrid 
perpetuals as the General Jacqueminot, a velvety pillar rose 
of scarlet-crimson; and the Mrs. John Laing, rosy-pink and 
large-flowered; it was fragrant to sweetness. A conspicuous 
climber was his Papa Gontier, crimson, while the largest 
variety, bright rose, was the Paul Neron. Of tea-scented roses 
the garden contained four: Catherine Mermet, pale pink; 
Souvenir d'Ami, pale rose; Mme. Lambard, a shaded rose; and 
Marie Van Houtte, a lovely white-tinted yellow. 

This assemblage of blooms in their enclosure 160 feet 
long held sway in the scene between the veranda and the bay; 
yet other flowers clustered round, such as mauve rhododen- 
drons and the purple blossoms of persimmon. If such a medley 
of color could hardly leave serene the chameleons that 
slithered about, it provided a joyous sanctuary for the red 
and the blue birds which sang in the trees. Nine years before, 
when Sullivan bought his Eden, he had no vision of it as 
a spot for a belated honeymoon. 

To leave Ocean Springs, and return to Chicago, was like 
coming out of a theater into the harsh world. As the months 
of 1900 lengthened out, conditions at the office were not too 
reassuring. Yet, work or no work, the architect always found 
a way to keep pencil and paper together. Sullivan took up 
embryology; he wanted to study what he called "the power 
that antedates the seed-germ." It was in 1900 that a second 
edition appeared of The Cell in Development and Inheritance, 
the authoritative book by the zoologist Beecher Wilson, with 
his admirable drawings of mitosis, or cell-splitting, in its 
eight stages. Sullivan read the work with the deep and 

214 



JOURNALISM 

concentrated attention which he gave to the few books he 
now did read. 

In the office, after looking over his mail of a morning he 
was punctilious in answering all letters either on the day 
received or on the day thereafter the first thing he did for 
weeks was to draw Wilson's illustrations, entirely from 
memory, explaining to Elmslie the while the processes of 
cellular growth: the chromosomes elongating gradually into 
a spindle, then splitting off one of the drawings being 
suggestive of a "cracker" pulled by children at a party. All 
the time, of course, Sullivan was garnering ideas for his own 
decoration of buildings. 

While the year 1900 yielded him no new commissions, it 
did bring him new fame abroad, and from foreign critics 
either visiting America or writing in Europe. At the great 
Paris Exposition a plaster cast, full size, of his doorway to the 
mausoleum of Eliza Getty was put on view, with its pierced 
panels and its highly-wrought concentric arches. A young 
travelling scholar from the Chicago Architectural Club, Max 
Dunning, stood talking with M. Pascal of the Beaux Arts. 
"I consider," said Pascal, "that Louis Sullivan has in his work 
exemplified better the essence of the teaching of the Beaux 
Arts than any other American." Again, when a compatriot 
of Pascal's, Jean Schopfer, visited New York, he called the 
Bayard Building, "the best skyscraper yet erected." And a 
Danish critic, writing on "The Art of Optimism," found his 
tide substantiated in the achievements of Sullivan alone. In 
Germany above all, Sullivan more than any other man was 
causing the nationalistic "secession" in architecture. 

On the other hand American designers, following upon 
the whole the example of the majority of the World's Fair 
committee, continued to build classic imitations patterned 
upon the "White Elephants" at that Fair. The Easterners of 
that committee, exploiting the enhanced reputation which 

"5 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart Two 

Chicago had won for them, simply elected one another 
seriatim to the presidency of their guild, the American Insti- 
tute. As Post had succeeded Hunt, so had Hunt's other pupil, 
Van Brunt, taken over from Post, and now, in 1900, Peabody, 
of the same World's Fair cabal, was with all the prestige of 
office continuing to fasten imitative architecture upon the 
country. If Daniel Burnham, back in Chicago approving, said 
"I told you so," Sullivan bitterly denounced such strangling 
of originality of indigenous American design. When Dankmar 
Adler died in April, worn out and disheartened after a career 
once great, his old partner was more than ever left singular as 
a radical, except for the oncoming prominence of the junior 
with whom he had quarrelled, Frank Lloyd Wright. 

If Sullivan now had to take his reward in European fame 
rather than in American patronage, he could at least tell his 
contemporaries what he thought of them, and at the same 
time appeal to the new generation to rebel. To the Archi- 
tectural League of America he read in June a paper called 
"The Young Man in Architecture." He called present Amer- 
ican architecture "ninety parts aberration, eight parts in- 
difference, one part poverty, and one part little Lord 
Faunderoy." Like Polonius with his plays "pastoral-comical, 
historical-pastoral, tragical-historical," Sullivan described the 
current masonry in a steel frame as being "like horse-eagles, 
or pumpkin-bearing frogs, or tarantula-potatoes . . * the off- 
spring of an illegitimate commerce with the mongrel styles of 
the past." If the young man was to break free, that was what 
he had to fight against; and Sullivan meant against the school 
of Burnham in Chicago and McKim in New York. 

Determined to lead this fight himself he was really 
enraged that since the commissions were all going to the 
imitators his unoccupied time enabled him to crusade he 
now induced a weekly magazine of the profession to print a 
long series of articles on the same theme as his speech. "Dear 

116 



JOURNALISM 

Lyndon," he wrote to his friend Smith in August, "I have 
arranged to write 52 articles on American architecture for 
the Interstate Architect and Builder, of Cleveland." They 
would "constitute one argument," and would "all be inter- 
related." He was to name them "Kindergarten Chats." 

All through the autumn and winter he wrote hard, much 
of the time in the company of Margaret at the Windermere 
flat, and by mid-February 1901, when the first article was 
published, he had finished half of the lot. He besought 
Lyndon Smith to send to the editor "as copious a list as he 
could" of those who might be interested, together with a 
subscription blank. "The architects will not understand much 
of what is in them; but the laity, more open-minded, will . . . 
it is among the people that we want to work. The composition 
of the articles is going along merrily ... in the 24^1 I get 
the 'young man out of doors on a hot summer day,' and the 
awakening begins. . . . How is everything with you and 
yours?" 

When in reply Smith ventured to doubt whether these 
articles would appeal to the ordinary citizen, that "laity," 
Sullivan (February 22) would have none of such hesitancy: 
"The 'Kindergarten Chats' will strike deeper than you are 
inclined to imagine. As a psychological study they will be far 
and away beyond anything I have hitherto attempted. The 
key to them you will find ... in the development of the 
character and artistic nature of the young man pom 'within. 
It will be the first serious attempt ever made to test archi- 
tecture by human nature and democracy." 

This was what is known as a "tall order." Neither as a 
writer nor as a reader nor as a student of languages was 
Sullivan quite experienced enough to use general terms with 
circumspection. Many of the Chats consisted of a dialogue 
between him and his young man. When the student asked, 
"What will make architecture as you understand it?" Sullivan, 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

in words much too expansive, gave a list of ingredients which 
no more applied to architecture than to any other art: poetic 
imagination, broad sympathy, humane character, and a 
thoroughly disciplined mind; perfected technique; and 
"sweetest of all," an abundant and gracious gift of expression. 

Shades of Patrick and Andrienne Sullivan! Their son to 
whom they doubly transmitted double talents might at least 
have added "care in the selection of one's parents." His list 
of requirements for architecture, indeed, was all that it took 
to make Shakespeare. 

In the fourth paper, called "The Garden" (a recent visit 
to Ocean Springs being obviously in mind) he quoted Dean 
Hole on roses in the garden and in the heart; also Walt 
Whitman, "Nature neither hastens nor delays." Like far 
more of his compatriots than he realized, at the turn of the 
century, Sullivan must philosophize on the model of Whitman 
and Emerson. But his genius as an architect did not make 
him a philosopher. Rather, his memorable tall buildings had 
tempted him into the character, so far as his writing went, of 
a skyscraping sentimentalist. 

But when (in the seventh Chat) he began his attack, 
Sullivan stood on solider ground: "That the bulk of our 
architecture is rotten to the core . . . does not admit of one 
solitary doubt That there is in our national life, in the genius 
of our people, a fruitful germ, and ... a handful who perceive 
this, is likewise beyond question." As an example of bad 
architecture he fulminated in a following article, "A Roman 
Temple," against the American epidemic of Roman style in 
banks: "Fm going to insist that the banker wear a toga, 
sandals, and conduct his business in the venerated Latin 
tongue." The city of Detroit, dating from Queen Anne's 
time, was commemorating its founders with a Doric column. 
This struck Sullivan as such an absurdity that he expended 
two articles upon it: "The men who set foot first on tie spot 

118 



JOURNALISM 

where Detroit now stands . . . thought not of Greek columns, 
but of wilderness, hunger, disease, death, foe on foe ... 
conquest ... the solitude of a continent. . . . The faith of 
the fanatic was theirs . . . devotion, patience and fortitude 
were the stars in their night . . . whose second centenary we 
are to 'celebrate 5 in unblushing puerility." 

For the sins of Detroit (in a Chat ensuing, called "Respon- 
sibility") he blamed the schools, as "pernicious, a fraud on 
the commonwealth, a continuous imbecility, an infernal 
make-believe," and in conclusion he insisted that "The yearn- 
ing of the hour is for life!" (Again the general term unde- 
fined) . In the twenty-second paper he had in mind his own 
fulfillment: "Sometimes a tulip 'breaks' into a new variety. So, 
there is a moment in our lives when we burst our bonds, or 
fail to burst them." This moment of "bursting" had of course 
come to Sullivan when in "three minutes" he had sketched 
the full outline of his epochal Wainwright Building. 

If originality as exemplified in that landmark of Sullivan's 
was a thing that Robert Peabody and his submissive followers 
in the East were doing their best to discourage, the same 
cannot be said of the entire "Chicago School." More than 
the balked and baffled Sullivan admitted, firms like Jenney & 
Mundie, and now again Holabird & Roche, the early inno- 
vators, were advancing on lines of their own. Firms composed 
of partners, who balanced each other, were simply proving 
more clever in winning and holding clients than the inflexible 
Sullivan practicing by himself, whose office lacked counter- 
poise, and if these rival firms at times copied his methods of 
design, they took care to refrain from his headiness with 
callers. 

After three years of comfort at the Windennere he found 
it necessary to seek quarters, probably smaller and therefore 
cheaper, yet in a good neighborhood, in a locality nearer the 
Auditorium. The Sullivans were unable to make a "home" 

219 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

in a house or a cottage; for that they had to be content with 
Ocean Springs; and so they moved to another hotel. It was 
the Virginia, known as "hotel apartments/' at Rush and Ohio 
Streets, a property of the McCormick family, and named after 
Miss Virginia McCormick. The family themselves lived 
nearby. This address, only five minutes in from the Lake, and 
a short mile north of the Auditorium, was no less impressive 
than that of the Windermere. Yet the Sullivans nowhere liked 
hotel life, and they found solace in the thought that they 
escaped from it every autumn and winter to Mississippi. 

With some desperation the architect continued to pin his 
hopes to his crusade in the Chats, failing commissions, of 
which none were now forthcoming even from his brother. 
Albert Sullivan, on the other hand, was stepping up still 
another rung in the ladder. In this year of 1901 he became 
Assistant Second Vice-President of the Illinois Central, in 
which office he was not only head of the Operating Depart- 
ment of the great system, but stood fourth in authority in 
the whole railway. While the fame of "Dear AT could never 
approach that of his brother, the position of this prince of 
transport, to say nothing of his fortune, had reached such a 
height that nobody, ten years before, would have dreamed of 
predicting the present contrary dip in the scales of their 
welfare. Still it is not recordedly known that the richer 
brother helped the poorer. 

To Louis Sullivan yet remained, however, the riches of 
the more imaginative mind, even if his fancy when turned to 
subjects other than architecture sometimes produced less 
impressive results. In July he published his twenty-fourth 
Chat, which he called the "awakening of the young man out 
of doors." While this article, entitled also "Poetry," was not 
a very happy effort in the vein of Whitman, being strings of 
external words rather than emotion from within, it did serve 
to suggest Sullivan's first ingredient, the "poetic imagination," 



220 



JOURNALISM 

as a requisite of distinctive architecture. Here and there he 
struck off a line, as "The soft pure blue of the moonlight," or 
a few arresting verses: 

The pensive widowed rain 
Drying her warm grey tears 
Pensively, with timorous tread . . . 

whose phrases betrayed the feeling he put into his decorative 
design. But the totality of this paper seemed a ramble without 
a compass, the work of a man rather shallow in his literary 
foundations. As Elmslie said, "Strange he read so few books." 
Sullivan had perhaps escaped too soon, at Lotus Place, from 
John Edelmann's prescriptions of reading. 



121 



CHAPTER 



ALBERT SULLIVAN DEPARTS 



T 

Xo 



Lo CONTINUE WRITING HIS CHATS IN A FRESH 

atmosophere, Louis Sullivan in August took his wife 
East on a visit to the Lyndon Smiths at Palisades. 
Two of the articles that dealt with New York, 
already in type, could hardly have created a wel- 
come among the "classical" architects of the me- 
tropolis if their author had chosen to cross the 
Hudson. The first was on the Columbia University 
Library, designed by Charles McKim, who ever 
since he had built the Court of Honour at the Fair 
had been anathema to Sullivan. This library, similar 
in certain lines to the domed Pantheon at Rome, 
for all its majesty roused him to say: "Of the 
wax-works of our art, of the rubbing of hands of 
our leading man-milliner, the library of an institu- 
tion of learning, how to forget and deny one's 
land . . . this is architectural nihilism . . . the saving 
grace of humour is not here." 

223, 



ALBERT SULLIVAN DEPARTS 

It was McKim, of course, the fifth conspirator in the 
succession, who was "slated" to succeed Peabody (for the 
term 1902-3) as the next president of the Institute of Archi- 
tects. Every one of the five Eastern architects on the com- 
mittee of the World's Fair, by capturing in turn the high 
office of this presidency, had now, over a stretch of ten years, 
not only shut the "radical" Louis Sullivan out of gaining 
among his colleagues as a whole professional prestige, but 
had in large part deprived him of exerting among his 
ordinary compatriots national influence as an architect. To 
such a degree had the Transportation Building alarmed the 
exotically-minded members of the committee. But if this 
clique were also jealous, actors, prima donnas, even college 
professors, could in their obstructive tactics no farther go. 

Of not only the "man-milliner" McKim, but of the 
eminent and globular George Post did Sullivan make fun, 
Post, who in the year Sullivan had produced his Wainwright 
Building could do no better than design the monstrosity 
that housed the New York World, and then at the Fair, to 
construct the leviathan Manufacturers' Building in French 
Renaissance. Post was likewise responsible, in New York, for 
two imitations of French chateaux, gracing opposite corners 
of Fifth Avenue at Fifty-seventh Street, for the shelter of 
Cornelius Vanderbilt and of Collis Huntington. Sullivan in 
his Chat talked to his "young man" as if on an architectural 
tour of the town: "This French chateau ... on this street- 
corner here ... the man may live in it physically; not 
morally, mentally, or spiritually ... he and his house are 
a paradox." 

Yet he was no "raw" Westerner merely taking a jibe at 
New York because his Bayard Building had earned him no 
further commissions there. If he now defined New York as 
a city of "physical growth and spiritual emaciation," he waxed 

"3 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fan Two 

in his very next Chat no less indignant at his own Chicago: 
"This city of vacant sullen materialism, brooding and morose 
within the splendour * . . the spectacle of man's abject 
spiritual beggary ... it is modern American inhumanity ... it 
is Caliban. But the lake, the sky and the prairie might save it 
if it would pull itself down and rebuild itself as it could do 
in a generation." Sullivan in Chicago would emulate the 
ambition, though not the style, of John Wood in Bath, in 
the eighteenth century. Continuing in his article, and never 
despairing of his compatriots, a Chicagoan himself celebrated 
"the inexhaustible activity and imaginative flexibility of the 
American mind." 

On the morning after the Sullivans arrived in Palisades, 
host and guest walked down the cliff to Sneeden's Landing, 
on the Hudson. Sullivan allowed no mere holiday to interrupt 
his work even for a moment. He sat in the wreck of an old 
sailboat embedded in the bank, and there he sketched out 
synopses of various remaining Chats, as if inspired by the 
scenic river. These visits to the wreck he repeated until he had 
finished his outlines. On subsequent days, the Sullivans felt 
freer either to go on long walks in the woods with their 
friends, or to drive up the river on a shelving road beneath 
the palisades. The holiday proved as invigorating to Sullivan 
as it was instructive to Lyndon Smith. 

In September, Elmslie welcomed his chief back to the 
Auditorium Tower, but had little work to gladden his 
return. Sullivan and Margaret resumed their life at the 
Virginia, not liking the pkce, but putting up with it for 
such fraction of the year as they dared not devote to Ocean 
Springs. With time in town to spare, the brawny architect 
resorted "for his health" to the Chicago Athletic Association, 
where he exercised at boxing. To Smith (October ist) he 
wrote: "Dear Lyn: There isn't much to report. Business still 
dull, but with some promise in the air. Sunday I wrote #45 

224 



ALBERT SULLIVAN DEPARTS 

of the K. C/s only seven more to write now then what shall 
I do for mental occupation? We are both well living at the 
hotel in durance. Expect to go South about the middle of 
the month. . . . Have gone back to Geo. Dawson and am 
boxing for dear life 3 times a week nothing like it. I look 
back upon our stay with you as a bright spot for sure. We 
both send love to you. . * . Yours, Louis." 

It was remarkable that Sullivan, some twenty-five years 
after his day of active athletics at Lotus Place, was still in 
trim for hard physical exertion, indeed, as his letter indicated, 
that this was not his first resumption of it. The gymnasium 
was saddened by the loss of its founder, his old captain of 
sport, "Father Bill" Curtis, now dead for a year. But Dawson, 
the instructor in boxing, served the immediate purpose in the 
great house at 125 Michigan Avenue. The club was perhaps 
further enlivened for Sullivan in the character of its secretary, 
who lived there, the lanky and affable humorist George Ade; 
upon the national success of his Fables in Slang he was at the 
moment writing the libretto of a musical comedy, The Sultan 
of Sulu. 

As for Sullivan's writing, his Kindergarten Chat on 
"Autumn Glory" seasonably appeared, expanded from its 
synopsis composed at Palisades. It attempted the spirit if it 
did not succeed in the rhythm of Leaves of Gross, with lines 
ingenuously beginning "Awake!" Sentiments for the instruc- 
tion of the tyro kept emerging: "Man should imitate the 
apple-tree, and let thoughts ripen like apples on the boughs 
of his mind." Then in two papers on the origins of architecture 
Sullivan wrote as if mindful of Stonehenge: cc When the lintel 
is placed upon the two piers, architecture springs into life." 
As for the arch, "Some man at some time . . . conceived and 
carried out the idea of wilfully placing stones to span over 
something or other." When man breathed life into the pier 
and lintel he made architecture as God made man, out of the 

225 



LOXTIS SXJLLIVAN AS HE LIVED PffTt T'WO 

dust of the earth. Whence came the impulse to this archi- 
tecture? "Perhaps," ruminated Sullivan, "a troglodyte's house 
caved in." Yet this "most emotional of constructive forms" 
was "too sublime to be the creation of a single mind." 

Late in the series he stormed again at scholarship, so 
called: "An architect who dubs his work such and such a 
'style* (of an old civilization not in tune with our contempo- 
rary needs) is not a scholar, but a plain public nuisance, 
obstructive to growth in democracy and in spiritual welfare." 
And in a succeeding article he defined the word: "What is 
an architect? A poet who uses not words but building materials 
as a medium of expression ... to the end that the finished 
building is an ethical totality*" 

When in mid-October Sullivan left with his wife for 
Ocean Springs he had almost reached the end of his long 
iteration of papers. With topics bearing either wholly or in 
part upon architecture he had been stirring, provocative, 
always fearless. In the deeper waters (for him) of his Chats 
entitled Citizenship, Criticism, Education, Scholarship, he 
floundered, and sometimes ran into absurdity. Yet if he was 
not capturing that "laity" he aimed at, he was winning many 
a young man who wanted to be an architect. Even while the 
course of American architecture was running headlong to 
classicism, Sullivan, whose Transportation Building youth 
still marvelled at, was upon the basis of a good deal of what 
he urged in Kindergarten Chats taking root in the minds of 
the generation in bud 

With his wife he tarried in their Southern cottage over 
the end of the year, among their red and white roses, between 
the golden sands of Biloxi and the pines, those trees like 
skyscrapers of the forest. Alone the architect returned in 
January to Chicago, having his final Chat still to write, an idyl 
inspired by the felicity of his married life. On January i ith, 
(1902) he sent greetings to Lyndon Smith: 

226 



ALBERT SULLIVAN DEPARTS 

I find your charming Xmas note upon my return from the 
South, where I spent the holidays with Margaret, All you say 
from the kindness of your heart we reciprocate in full meas- 
ure. We had a most delightful Xmas lunch on the gallery, etc. 
temp. 72 birds singing, waters sparkling a perfect Ocean 
Springs day. Margaret remains in the South for a while, and 
I miss her terribly. 

I am working now on the last of the KCs, #52, "Spring 
Song." I worked on it until 5.30 yesterday morning; but the 
pace I took in the poem is so extremely high-keyed that I 
don't dare publish it. After writing 20 pages ... I found I had 
scarcely made an introduction ... so I must lower the tem- 
perature. I shall work on it again tonight, for I wish to get 
through. These KCs have been a pretty heavy strain on me. 

Business is picking up a little, and the weather is mild. I 
send my very best wishes to you both, and Margaret would 
join me were she here. 

His farewell to the youthful architect, the "Spring Song," 
reverberated in substance his inscription in the Auditorium 
Theatre: "The utterance of life is a song the symphony of 
nature/' But the locale of the Chat was "a beautiful spot in 
the woods on the shore of Biloxi Bay," and it echoed his 
love for his statuesque Margaret, into whose shapely hands he 
liked to put a huge Paul Neron rose with a stem two feet 
long, and whom he now personified as Spring. 

At the same time Sullivan pitched his song in the identical 
key, painted it in the identical colors, of his mural in the 
Auditorium: a green meadow at sunrise, a silver stream, a 
poet inspired by the awakening. His thesis was that creative 
architecture was in essence a dramatic art, and an art of 
eloquence, of subtle rhythmic beauty, power, and tenderness. 
He now thought he had written almost an epic, something 
like Virgil leading Dante, or the sibyl leading Aeneas. "Into 
the depths and darkness," said Sullivan, "we descend." But 
the promise at the end was to reach the light. 

Louis Sullivan, sentimental or not, was always the poet at 

227 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

heart, the poet as well when he was (%ging in his rose 
garden as when he sat at his drawing-board. And now he 
wanted young architects to keep the faith, that in order to 
realize their profession a feeling of poetry within them should 
be as a fountain, with a surge, a dance, and freshness ever. 

In that last letter to Lyndon Smith he had said that business 
was "picking up a little," just as in October business was 
"still dull," but with "something in the air." It was so hard, 
so very hard, for him to confess that he was not the same 
giant, or not so held, as in his day (with Adler) when a new 
commission rolled in for him every fortnight. The fault must 
partly lie in the education of the people; he would in person 
tell die architects, the older members, tell them again what 
was wrong with education. 

His forum, as in 1900 with "The Young Man in Archi- 
tecture," should be the Architectural League of America, 
meeting this year (in June as before) in Toronto. But the 
formal schooling of Sullivan himself, except for his single 
autumn in Paris, had been too superficial and broken for him 
to know very well what he was talking about. 

Arrived in Toronto, he spoke at great length on forming 
character, but, as hitherto, neglected to say what must be 
taught to that end. He did not know that all he advocated was 
to be found infinitely better stated in Plato, nor, even if he 
had been aware of that, would he have recommended the 
reading of such a source in the only fruitful way: from the 
original. Sullivan's words, "several times removed," sounded 
a mere tangle of platitudes. Not even an architectural mag- 
azine published this address, this error of genius. As Frank 
Lloyd Wright said, Sullivan was always "miraculous when 
he drew," but could be "ridiculous when he wrote." 

If he had nothing to draw, however, the miracle un- 
happily ceased to be evident. Into his big offices came only 
little orders. One would think that his friend and patron 

228 



ALBERT SULLIVAN DEPARTS 

Ellis Wainwright, whose name Sullivan had built into the 
history of American architecture, a man for whom Sullivan 
had created five designs, at least two of which were milestones 
in his career, might again have found in St. Louis something 
more of consequence for him to work upon. But Wainwright, 
likewise long squeezed by the Panic of 1893, was in a sense 
worse off than Sullivan. Behind that calculating look in 
Wainwright's eye ky a VinTr in his mind. Together with 
another local brewer, and a banker, he had lately tried to 
buy from corrupt aldermen the franchise for electric street- 
cars, which were replacing horses. The public prosecutor, in 
what was called the "boodle case," exposed the capitalists, 
whom he indicted for bribery. But Wainwright fled to Paris 
where with less interference he might pursue his fancy for 
the paintings of the Barbizon school. No longer could 
Sullivan hope for commissions, once so lucrative, from this 
benefactor turned malefactor, the man whom the architect 
had nevertheless monumentalized. 

Yet in the Auditorium Tower, high above the pavements 
of Chicago, Louis Sullivan retained a modicum of his old 
aplomb, his old certitude and confidence. Since the draftsman 
Steele had joined a firm in Pittsburgh, the chief did not 
object when in the summer of 1903 Elmslie recommended 
for the staff another young graduate from the despised schools 
of architecture, this time from Cornell University. He was 
alert, thin-faced, with eyes dark and attentive, and he dressed 
as well as Sullivan himself. Though educated easterly, William 
Gray Purcell was of local birth, and still lived with his 
parents in Oak Park, actually across the street from Frank 
Lloyd Wright. A Scottish journalist who was a friend of 
Elmslie and his sisters had introduced Purcell to that family; 
they gathered from the young man that since boyhood he 
had wandered spellbound through the Auditorium Theatre, 
whose designer he venerated. But Cornell was in central New 

229 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart T<wo 

York. Its architectural canon was innocent of any ideas other 
than the classicism of Post and McKim. And for five years 
the intruder from Chicago, against virtually the whole staff 
and student-body, had "fought for Sullivan." This, it may 
be reasonably surmised, Elmslie did not conceal when sup- 
porting the candidate for an assistantship. 

Within the office of his hero, Purcell was soon "partaking 
of the good that radiated from his personality." Like Wright 
fifteen years earlier, the pupil grew utterly absorbed in 
watching the master: "My first vivid impression of him was 
his remarkable hands, both at rest and in action. The most 
characteristic feature . . . was the thumb. It looked like a 
modeler's thumb in its size and backward bend. There was 
an element of power in it, as though it were ready to release 
a thought. The fingers functioned with more than usual 
ability. Even in repose they seemed to be potentially dynamic, 
a component part of that 'form and function* idea which 
possessed his whole physical and emotional being. . . . When 
he was drawing, his hands appeared tremendously ready to 
do ... his spirit became concentrated at the end of the 
pencil. . . . The manipulation of pencil, T-square, triangle 
(rubber eraser was never used) was a beautiful rhythmic 
change-of-motion series, coordinated to his streaming ideas. 
Each hand-and-finger action revealed Sullivan's insistence on 
architectural thought being fully organized and defined prior 
to its delivery . . , with a skill, dexterity and economy of 
motion that gave me an entirely new perception. ... I 
observed how the lines flowed to the paper plane as if 
interwoven. . . . Sullivan's architectural thinking was never 
a 'plan and elevation' sequence. His germinal thought artic- 
ulated and expanded in all three dimensions from beginning 
to fulfillment. This appeared as life itself flowing from his 
mind." 

As autumn drew on, Purcell found himself fascinated by 

230 



ALBERT SULLIVAN DEPARTS 

the master as a character. Sullivan on arriving strode through 
the office-gate, topcoat over his arm, erect, brisk, shoulders 
thrown back, giving good-morning (unlike his disregard in 
the haughty and despotic era of Frank Lloyd Wright) to 
each of his staff, yet with a lingering trace of jauntiness, and 
"a sense of his importance to the world." He had calmed 
down somewhat as his commissions had dwindled He no 
longer scolded. Quietly, upon scrutinizing the outcome of 
general orders, he recommended a change in angle, a level to 
be altered, or a fresh procedure. At noon on Saturdays he 
gave out the cheques, "always very pleasantly." He took 
notice of individuals. In the evenings, as he started to walk 
away, he often halted suddenly, for an amiable interval, "to 
advise Purcell as a young man." 

The largest work in hand was the extension of the Schles- 
inger & Mayer store, to which designing the proprietors after 
much deliberation had agreed. Sullivan let his young recruit 
work upon some of the details. But, in addition, Purcell was 
asked to redraw the paths and beds in the elliptical rose garden 
of Ocean Springs. The master was surprisingly meticulous 
about this assignment In the spring he had got from a sur- 
veyor at that village a chart that marked the size and species 
of every tree either in or near the garden. Purcell had to draw 
a long curve past a certain oak. Every curve he tried threw the 
design out of balance. When he asked whether he might (in 
the architect's phrase) "develop an incident," Sullivan, who 
could be as sudden as the flick of a squirrel's tail, was 
"shocked." He demanded that the gravel path be unsevered, 
though that requirement meant a slice off the oak, Purcell 
ventured to point out that so much of the trunk, over a third, 
would have to be cut back that the tree would die. "Then 
remove the tree," said Sullivan, and walked away. Nothing 
must be suffered to impair the grace of a curve in the rose 
garden. 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part T<wo 

When in October the master left for the South, Purcell 
understood that he himself, before attempting to practice 
architecture "on his own," would do well, from the beginning 
of the year, to take advanced training at the University of 
California as far as possible away from Eastern mimicry. 

Sullivan, now at Ocean Springs overseeing twelve men 
who toiled in his garden and his forest, was in November in 
correspondence with Claude Bragdon, the young architect 
who in Buffalo had enriched his experience from the very 
sight of Sullivan's Guaranty Building. Bragdon intended to 
become a writer on architecture. He was engaged, however 
hazardously, upon an article for House and Garden to do 
with Sullivan and his "philosophy." A letter from Bragdon 
enquired about Adler. The surviving partner was repentant. 
"Adler," said he, "was a man of fine mind and excellent 
heart." To Bragdon's question as to which of the Sullivan 
buildings had proved the most absorbing to its designer, 
Sullivan replied that his "interest" dated from the Wainwright. 
In pride of that he was outspoken. "It marks the beginning," 
he with truth observed, "of a logical and poetic expression 
of the metallic-frame construction." Finally, as to his philos- 
ophy, the answer was not so precise: "It is something to be 
felt in the heart. There are no set terms. In my time IVe had 
much adulation, and abuse galore. What my heart yearns for 
now is justice, and a sympathetic interpretation of that which 
I have loved, and for which I have lived* . . . With me, 
architecture is not an art, but a religion, and that religion 
but a part of democracy." 

A month later, at Christmastide, when Bragdon submitted 
his article, Sullivan mildly objected: "You do not weld 
entirely my architecture and my philosophy." But that was 
an elusive if not an endless task; Sullivan's "philosophy" was 
in fact as highly ramified as his ornamentation, and not always 
as flawless. 

132 



ALBERT SULLIVAN DEPARTS 

After his return to Chicago in 1904 he admitted in another 
letter to Bragdon, about the Beaux Arts, more that was in 
favor of his sojourn in Paris than he had ever allowed hitherto, 
either in public or privately. "It was at the School that I first 
grasped die concrete value of logical thinking." While the 
Beaux Arts, he asserted, had not been salutary for other 
American architects, it had been a good thing for him. If 
Sullivan had elaborated this acknowledgment in his published 
articles, or in his addresses to architects, he might have gained 
a little more recognition as an authority on education. 

With regard to public speaking, the case had been quite 
otherwise with his less fanciful, less sentimental brother 
Albert. The elder Sullivan, from the time so many years 
before when he attended "night school" in order to learn 
how to address assemblies, had "stuck to his last," and when 
he did speak, which was not too often, he talked about rail- 
ways, whereof he knew, and not about philosophy, nor about 
education. While it was true that Albert was no artist, it was 
equally true that Louis Sullivan was no scholar. 

The final distinction of Albert Sullivan as an executive of 
rare ability was now bestowed upon him. After thirty-four 
years with the Illinois Central, which had done all but make 
him president of the company, he was appointed general 
manager, with offices in St. Louis, of the Missouri Pacific a 
road ranging far. Although his querulous wife had unhappily 
driven the wedge between him and his brother, she had to all 
appearances wrecked no trains. With his lady, his daughter, 
and now a son and namesake, Albert Sullivan vacated the 
house in Lake Park Avenue, planned and once enjoyed by 
his brother, and vanished as well from proximity to Louis 
Sullivan as from his affection. 



CHAPTER 



T 



HE DECISION OF MARGARET 



u. 



'PON THE SECOND <C UNIT" OF THE SCHLESINGER 

& Mayer store, Sullivan had almost enough oppor- 
tunity for planning and designing to remind him 
of his heyday. This section of the building ran up 
three floors higher than the first; it added three 
horizontal bays; it was rounded into a tower-like 
projection at the corner; and it extended in seven 
bays down the longer side, all in the same con- 
spicuous horizontals as the original section, with 
the verticals broken. The three upper stories were 
each lower in height than those under, a variation 
not unpleasing, while the top (twelfth) story was 
recessed, not merely to allow an outdoor prom- 
enade, but to accentuate the cornice, as Sullivan 
was ever careful to do. Again for variety he made 
the piers on the rounded corner three-quarter 
cylindrical These upright curved surfaces were as 



THE DECISION OF MARGARET 

arresting as they were ingenious; they relieved the sweeping 
flatness of the sides of the building. 

But the cunning in the design, and the bold originality of 
it, rested in the two bottom stories- The most delicate 
decoration adorned the level at which the passing crowd 
could see it. Whereas in the Guaranty Building (at Buffalo) 
Sullivan stressed masculinity to bespeak drive, ambition, 
strength of purpose in the present ornamentation his aim 
was to court unhurried femininity, to lure the susceptible 
women shoppers. He garnished the big display windows with 
lacy metal, flowers, vines, berries, geometrically arranged in 
cluster or scroll, in frieze or medallion, the whole instinct 
with vitality and rhythm, dancing, by very grace of line. The 
effect was festive, a store permanently bedecked for a per- 
manent commemoration; but the psychology of it was that 
an individual shopper should feel that her own visit was being 
celebrated. Even the great chains which upheld the canopy 
over the broad side doors were not crude links, but iron 
garlands of flowers highly wrought. At die corner, the bulge 
offered a choice of five arched entrances, to invite approach 
from all directions, each door being topped with a great 
wreath of laurel, as if a customer who passed underneath 
merited a laurel-crown for her discrimination. To cross such 
a threshold, the whole setting seemed to say, confirmed not 
one's interest in vulgar commerce, but one's devotion to art. 

George Elmslie, who as chief draftsman worked out much 
of this ornament, had long observed that Sullivan's habit 
preliminary to any designing of such a kind was to study 
origins of certain plant-life, then its development into ultimate 
bloom. Sullivan especially examined the growth of fronds, in 
all their delicate curves and maturing shapes, thereby deter- 
mining which shapes, in his design, should succeed which 
curves. After drawing his axial lines and curves, he "orches- 



Loxris SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

trated" them like a composer, taking care that the organic 
nature of the design always showed through. 

One would think that Elmslie, so appreciative of these 
creative processes emerging from the pencil of his master, 
would have been equally zealous in preserving the sketches 
and directions from which he was told to complete the work. 
But the wastbasket still held an extraordinary fascination for 
him, like an elephant fed by a child at the zoo. Sketch after 
sketch, note after note, when done with for one reason or 
another, simply vanished. "Keep them, man!" roared Sullivan. 
"Keep them all! They have a meaning don't you see?" And 
the incorrigible Elmslie, who thought "superfluous" paper 
encroached upon tidiness, curled up with regrets, while he 
continued his designing as capably as ever* 

However, if Elmslie "destroyed the evidence," he was 
one of the more helpful reporters of Sullivan's methods, just 
by observation. Another critic remarked that a Sullivan motif 
was like a song of Schubert. Indeed the music in the man was 
latent not merely when he sat engrossed at his drawing-board. 
"Much of his talk," said Bragdon afterward, "from the most 
'musical' nature I ever encountered, partook of the nature of 
music: stimulating, cryptic, evanescent, leaving the listener in 
an inspired mood, but without a communicable idea." Occa- 
sionally Sullivan did touch the ground, with clarity and 
definiteness; but "his true kinship was with Ariel, an androg- 
ynous nature, the critical mind versus the ecstatic soul." It 
was so in his writing; and when his ecstasy impinged upon 
his critical sense, his criticism went askew. 

To study this remarkable new store, the Schlesinger & 
Mayer corner, Lyndon Smith, in the summer of 1904, paid 
Sullivan in Giicago a return visit. After noting (in the 
Architectural Record for July) the sensitive and delicate 
effects of the exterior, he stepped indoors: "There is the same 
treatment, of the woodwork, inside; for example, a screen of 

236 



THE DECISION OF MARGARET 

sawed mahogany* enclosing a writing-room on the third floor, 
with a wainscot of panels in five thicknesses. The wrought 
iron is as elaborate as the woodwork or the terracotta, likewise 
the capitals of columns and the chandeliers." Once Sullivan 
had persuaded the shoppers to enter, his purpose, of course, 
was to keep them there. 

In the same issue of the Record, H. W. Desmond, a critic, 
rebuked those in America who could still shy away from such 
genius so long proved: 

Mr. Sullivan is really our only modernist. He is moreover 
strictly of our own soil . . . He is his own inspiration, and in 
this sense may be saluted as the first American architect . . . 

He has certainly evolved and ekborated a highly artistic 
form of superficial decoration expressed in logical connection 
with the American steel-skeleton building. . . . Here is Van 
nouveau indigenous to the United States, nurtured upon 
American problems, and yet but scantily recognized or con- 
sidered by a profession that busies itself with the importation 
of the same principles. 

The profession in Europe, on the other hand, again saluted 
the master, not only as a national force, but as an example to 
architects on the Continent. Foreign critics called the Schles- 
inger & Mayer building "practical American horizontalism." 

As Sullivan had nothing more to do this year but a 
work-a-day plain office building of five stories, again in 
horizontal bands, he and his wife in early autumn travelled 
down to their cottage and roses. There, as the architect said, 
he was not bedevilled with "progress," nor with any agitation 
for a "Greater Ocean Springs," but could enjoy "lovely nights 
of sea-breezes." 

Margaret Sullivan, who cherished literary leanings, had 
after five years proved rather a companion than a helpmate; 
her husband had to take upon himself all the "arrangements" 
for her, the travel, the reservations, the little disbursements, 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

like a courier. He could not give her a hundred dollars hand 
to hand; he put it in the bank for her, lest she either mislay 
it or spend it all at once. Yet she was fair to look upon, a kind 
of goddess in the garden without being a gardener. 

Her husband now did most of the digging himself, assisted 
chiefly by an old Mexican Negro, who wore blue overalls, 
and a bandanna round his waist. It was only for occasional 
clearance that Sullivan engaged his "dozen men," for the 
heavier work in the forest, along the paths, in the stables. 
The Mexican trimmed the grass and the borders, and he 
picked the rosebuds, of which his master now grew nearly a 
hundred varieties. 

Late in the winter season Lyndon Smith arrived for a 
visit. He brought his camera; he wished to write another 
article for the Record, illustrated, to be called "The Home of 
an Artist-Architect." A picture of Sullivan standing at the 
foot of the steps to the cottage showed him in white, coatless, 
with a neat bow tie, in a white yachting cap, and leaning 
lightly against an enormous tree, yet erect as the tree itself, 
one arm resting on the bark, the other akimbo. The extraor- 
dinarily long and exquisitely tapering fingers of his right 
hand, not merely like those of the pianist that he was, but like 
the fingers of a kdy of the Bourbons at the Court of France, 
lay curving with the utmost grace, one above another, against 
this bark. But the thumb was quite another matter. Thick 
and awkward-looking, the "modeler's thumb," bent back 
exactly as Purcell had noticed, drooped down, masculine and 
masterful. Sullivan's pose was completely natural and easy, 
one foot crossed over the other, toe in the ground, and he 
seemed to be looking, eyes narrowed, beyond his garden to 
the distant bay, where die breakers, quelled by Deer Island, 
came silently foaming in upon the sands. 

When Smith (or his host) came to photograph the rose 
garden and the arbors, the summerhouses, the fountain, the 

238 



THE DECISION OF MARGARET 

crab-pool, he posed Margaret Sullivan in nearly every picture, 
the Junoesque big-bosomed Margaret in ruffles and flounces, 
plump-faced, still with her pompadour, but with a good deal 
of her abundant dark hair becomingly coiled upon her neck. 
She was fond of dress. Standing in an arbor, seated on a 
coping, or pensive at the fountain, she had herself "snapped," 
now in black hat and with a parasol, now in a white picture- 
hat, now with a white rose in her hair the Marie Van Houtte. 
There was no denying that she was a part of Louis Sullivan's 
ornamentation. 

Sullivan did not confine his contribution to the community 
entirely to his own grounds. In Ocean Springs he designed 
a little Episcopal church, St. John's. The conception of the 
architect, who always had to be "different," although he 
would have insisted that this was not merely for the sake 
of differing, but rather a matter of appropriateness, was an 
unassuming church without a steeple. The villagers accepted 
his plan, but, as if fearing their church would look no more 
than a chapel, as soon as Sullivan was out of sight they added 
the spire. The transgression could not have endeared them 
to the architect. Had they but looked at what they were 
criticizing they would have perceived he had actually given 
them half a dozen spires, three on each side, by the device, 
bold, original and graceful, of running the peaks of the tall 
church windows far above the eaves. 

When in June 1905 Lyndon Smith published his article, 
the architectural world gathered that all was well at Ocean 
Springs. But not all was well in Chicago. Sullivan had come 
back to find no work in the Tower except a commission for 
a meager little two-story shop which a tyro could have 
undertaken. 

Again he was obliged to fincT another place to live in, 
cheaper than the Virginia. He moved three and a half miles 
farther north, a block north of Lincoln Park, to a service-flat 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

called the Lessing Annex, at Evanston Avenue and Surf 
Street. In two minutes he could thence reach the surf of Lake 
Michigan. The neighborhood was yet good, and might be 
called "middle middle-class"; but it was not so convenient 
to his office. 

"What is the matter with you in Chicago?" cried Anders 
Zorn, the eminent Swedish painter, in the course of a visit to 
the city. "There in the Auditorium Tower sits your country's 
greatest living architect, one of the world's leaders in his 
profession, doing nothing. This could not happen in Europe." 
But it does not appear that Zorn urged Sullivan to come and 
practice in Stockholm. 

Perhaps one thing the matter with "them in Chicago" was 
that they feared Sullivan, brooding upon being passed over 
in commissions, had grown a little fond of the bottle, not to 
mention his overworked coffee pot. Not drinking in company, 
he thought he could avoid being gossiped about. But he could 
not conceal his looks the eyes, the lines, the complexion. 
Quantities of coffee kept him wakeful enough; if spirits were 
added to coffee they must disincline him to sleep at all; and 
Margaret Sullivan had her struggles and her worries over the 
man whose talents so few were making use of. 

The commissionless architect vented his resentment in 
bursts of speaking, and writing. To the Chicago Architectural 
dub he read in this year 'TSTatural Thinking: a Study in 
Democracy." He dwelt upon the stark difference between 
hearing and listening (the old lesson drummed into him by 
his schoolmaster Moses Woolson), and he declared that 
people must be taught, like children, to listen with all five 
of their senses, in order to nourish the powers of observation 
and memory, reflection, reasoning. But what did the "sense- 
less" American architects betray? 

"There is a certain grim ghastly humour in it all ... a 
banker sitting in a Roman temple; railway tracks running into 

140 



THE DECISION OF MARGARET 

a Roman bath; a Wall Street banker living in a French 
chateau; a rich vulgarian living in a Trianon; a modern person 
living in a Norman castle; a hive of offices built up of 
miscellaneous fragments of ancient architecture, firmly fast- 
ened by a modern steel frame; university buildings with 
battlements and towers, but no cross-bow men/* To do away 
with these monstrosities, it must ever be dinned into America 
that the architect "is and imperatively shall be an interpreter 
of the national life of his time" 

But if his pleadings always fetched an audience, neither 
listener nor reader seemed to come forward with work for 
him to design. Worse yet, Schlesinger & Mayer sold their great 
store to a firm called Carson Pirie Scott, and when in 1906 
this new firm decided to extend the long side of the building 
by six bays, they gave the commission not to the reputedly 
bibulous though veritably great man who had created the 
plan, but to his old rival Daniel Burnham, follower of the 
star of the East. For once Burnham complimented Sullivan by 
copying him, in part; Burnham did the work perhaps a little 
"cheaper," if ungainlier, by omitting the promenade at the top. 

Meantime the master, drearily waiting in the Tower for 
commissions, found on many a day nothing to do but to talk 
to the ever-patient Elmslie. Sullivan liked to take three or 
four of his long strides into Elmslie's east room, and gaze 
across the vastness of Lake Michigan. "Idle days," said he to 
his draftsman, "are hard to bear." He tried to make them 
more endurable by declaiming his views, whether for ten 
minutes or for an hour, upon any subject that popped into 
his head just as in the after-hours of the abundant days with 
Frank Lloyd Wright. Usually he concluded with, "Well, 
George, there we are." And he strode back to whatever he 
had been idling with sometimes those photographic plates of 
roses in his own room. 

One moming he went in to see Elmslie at half -past ten, 

241 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart T*wo 

and harangued the poor man until five o'clock, without 
stopping, except to demand now and then momentary 
comment or concurrence. Elmslie ventured to ask his master 
whether he did not get tired. 

"If," replied Sullivan, "you mean tired in mind no. My 
brain has never been tired; it's not made that way." 

But Elmslie noticed that Sullivan when bodily tired could 
sleep as long as fourteen hours on end, as once happened 
upon a return journey he made from Philadelphia. He had 
forgotten his coffee. 

Since Sullivan was not building, he continued to write. In 
this otherwise vacuous year he followed up his "Natural 
Thinking" with a slashing article entitled "What is Archi- 
tecture? A Study in the American People of Today." As he 
finished it, Elmslie was watching him at his desk, "serene as 
if sitting on Olympus, looking at the sun." The master read 
the essay aloud, as usual; but Elmslie as usual could think of 
nothing very acute to say. Judgment of his compatriots, 
from the art which they were accepting, was Sullivan's theme. 
"You know, George," said he, "I believe a man has to have an 
element of the tiger in his make-up to do what I am doing, 
to proceed as I am." He posted the manuscript to the Ameri- 
can Contractor, because he "thought the publicity would 
help him." 

In this wise ran his charge: 

The [current] architecture is ashamed to be natural, but 
not to lie; ashamed to be honest, but not to steal. Filled with 
hypocrisy, cant, neurasthenia, it has no serenity nor guiding 
principle, no love of nature nor joy of living. These buildings 
show lack of great thinkers among the architects, no love of 
country, no affection for the people, no philosophy. Only 
here and there does one find modest, truthful, sincere build- 
ings. You [the American people] have not thought deeply 
enough to know that the heart in you is the woman in man. 
You have derided your femininity, instead of knowing its 

242 



THE DECISION OF MARGARET 

power the hidden well-spring of intuition and imagination. 
. . , A colossal energy is in your buildings, but . , . not the true 
power of equipoise. This architecture expresses obscurely the 
most human qualities you as a people possess, and which, such 
is your awkward mental bashfulness, you are ashamed to ac- 
knowledge, much less to proclaim. One longs to wash from 
this dirty face its overlay of timidity and abasement ... to 
see if indeed there be not beneath its forlorn aspect, the sweet 
face and form of unsuspected Cinderella. 



He did not realize that he impaired much hard sense by 
his sentimentalism. He distributed offprints of his article. 
There was "little or no response." 

If this neglect depressed him, down South he always 
managed to revive his spirits. In this year, it appears, Allison 
Owen, his younger fellow-collegian from "Boston Tech," 
who since 1895 had practiced architecture in New Orleans, 
visited the Sullivans at Ocean Springs. Before dinner, they 
took him round the rose garden the obvious pastime with 
their guests. Owen was soon to celebrate his tenth wedding 
anniversary; he invited his host and hostess to New Orleans. 
In September they gaily travelled to the feast. Its atmosphere 
was Creole, Mrs. Owen being of French descent Sullivan 
and Margaret, by virtue of having lived a long time in the 
vicinity, surprised and delighted the gathering by "taking 
active part in the chatter of Creole French." 

If the Sullivans could have kept to Ocean Springs for the 
rest of their life, and never returned to their unremunerative 
Chicago, they had been happier. Unfortunately the where- 
withal for such blissful retirement was lacking. Sullivan's 
income, even when he worked, was not yielding them enough 
to subsist on. 

From Henry Babson, a capitalist in matters electric, he 
got a commission to build (by 1907) a country house in 
Riverside, near Chicago. The work entailed was considerable, 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

with a design in the long horizontal style, embodying the 
architect's characteristic string of arches, this time set in an 
overhanging balcony. But there were no more commissions 
in prospect. 

As Sullivan's nights-out increased in frequency, and he 
brought his Irish temperament home to clash with his wife's 
Welsh, the sorely tried Margaret, in as sorry case as Mrs. 
Sullen in The Beaux Stratagem, found herself night on end 
unable to deal with her husband single-handed. And in the 
morning she could think only of scurrying to the Tower to 
unburden her woes. 

"His wife used to come in," said one of Sullivan's staff, 
"and see me in the office, and shed tears, not knowing what 
to do with her Louis. She had to have assistance every night, 
at times, to help put him to bed/' This meant either calling in 
the servants of the Annex, or rousing another guest. 

And then Sullivan was himself again, resolving to stay 
home. Yet his wife could no longer feel sure how far he 
would keep to what he said, and a woman of thirty-five may 
well be at a disadvantage in prevailing upon a man of fifty 
if his earlier years have led him into precipitate ways. As 
Sullivan resumed falling from grace, now less, now more, 
Margaret lost patience, even hope. At all events her husband 
was unable to support two persons on the fee from designing 
one house or one other building a year. Margaret if necessary 
could find something to do she aspired to be eventually a 
novelist could look after herself as she had done in her young 
womanhood; but she apparently rejected a life of marital 
poverty with bouts of midnight tussling to boot. 

It came to pass that they separated. Neither one threatened 
divorce, nor did Margaret discard the name of Sullivan. 

After she left him, Sullivan from time to time spoke of 
her, to Elmslie and others whom she knew, with fondness, 
and with no little consideration. Certain of her qualities he 

244 



THE DECISION OF MARGARET 

even went so far as to admire. One of them, perhaps, had 
been her queenliness as a hostess in the rose garden of Ocean 
Springs. Was it to be henceforth quite as easy to entertain 
his guests? 

The master of the cottage seems in due course to have 
taken steps to alleviate his solitude. In particular with regard 
to Ocean Springs had he grown used to company, to recrea- 
tion, to conviviality. One day local inhabitants who chanced 
to pass along Holcomb Boulevard, or along the beach round 
its corner, noticed a lady unknown to them on the Sullivan 
veranda. She was young and handsome, and her most striking 
feature was a great heap of red hair. If she was a guest for 
an occasion, her presence might not have mattered. But the 
strange lady reappeared, and after an interval, when Mr. 
Sullivan next came down, turned up again. Then it got to 
be known that the portrait of this lady, an oil portrait, life- 
size, with all that red hair massed high, was hanging over the 
mantelpiece in die cottage. Veritably such a thing, it was said, 
taking it all in all, "scandalized the neighborhood." 



CHAPTER 



T 



HE FINAL REFUGE 



I 



N THE LITTLE TOWN OF OWATONNA, IN SOUTHERN 

Minnesota and about 300 miles northwest of 
Chicago, the president of the National Farmers' 
Bank chanced to read Sullivan's "What is Archi- 
tecture?" When he had finished with the article, he 
concluded that Sullivan knew. Architecture should 
be "natural, honest, serene," and show the "true 
power of equipoise." Just like a bank! The president 
wished to build a new bank, and he invited Sullivan 
to design it. That "publicity," after all, had helped 
him in Owatonna. 

The architect, given untrammelled opportunity 
to show how far from the pillars of ancient Rome 
his conception of a bank should be, envisaged its 
outline as a "strong-box," almost a cube, but with 
a top like a fitted lid, slanting out a bit. He drew 
two massive arches for windows, reminiscent of 

246 



THE FINAL REFUGE 

his Transportation Building, and he set the glass within 
vertical mullions of steel. To the cube he appended a "tail," 
bearing a balcony of small arches. Above the base, itself of 
light red-brown sandstone, rose shale brick in soft colors, 
from green enamel to dark red. Never afraid of color, 
Sullivan finished off the front and side with an outer band 
in bronze-green, and an inner one formed of glass mosaic, 
blue, but flecked with green, white, and gold. He then hung 
an immense "badge," as wonderfully foliated as any he had 
ever drawn, at the upper corners of the band both in front 
and on the side wall 

Indoors he laid a floor of green tile, with walls and 
wainscot of red brick, capped with green enamel terra cotta. 
Another vast arch, with a sweep like a rainbow, carried the 
farmers' colors of early spring and autumn, while murals 
depicted a dairy scene and a harvest scene. The great 
windows, double plate glass outside and opalescent leaded 
glass within, against the severity of the northern winter, 
showed marbled green and buff, with designs in the center of 
buff and violet. 

If hitherto the fanners, who called Owatonna "the world's 
butter capital," had never been conscious of the colors of their 
wheat, their herds, their grass, their sunsets, they had their 
outdoors captured for them upon entering this bank. There 
were in addition fixtures of black marble counters, bronze 
grilles, and surmounting the grilles four chandeliers, reaching 
up instead of hanging down, whose design suggested as well 
the scales of justice as of avoirdupois. When in 1908 the 
building was opened, even strangers began to make pilgrimage 
to Owatonna. 

Sullivan for all his adversity was still the master. The 
pity of his latest triumph was that it lay hidden away in a 
little town of 5,000 people. He still got nothing to do in 
Chicago, where Daniel Burnham ruled; much less was he 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

noticed in New York, where his diatribe against McKim's 
revered Columbia Library earned him no friends. 

Yet the old drive to express himself, in writing if not in 
building, seemed to persist. For many months he had been 
working on a book, in forty-four chapters, to be called 
Democracy, but with the unfortunate sub-ride, A Man Search. 
It was another of his Whitmanian-Emersonian testaments, in 
which his competency was questionable, his "philosophy," 
social and professional It proved a jumble, as well, of poetry, 
criticism, and sociology, now brilliant, now original, now 
sensuous and sentimental, but abstract and redundant to 
incoherence. He said his aim was to "illuminate the heart, 
expand the creative power, and certify the spiritual integrity 
of man." If he would bracket all this under "democracy," 
Sullivan was optimistic. 

However, having written it, he sat revising it 180,000 
words in the luxurious Chicago Qub, a lonely man laboring 
far into the night, and "at 1:42 a.m., April i8th, 1908," he 
completed his revision. (There were bedrooms in the club) . 

And then, to his deep disappointment, he failed to persuade 
any publisher that A Man Search would make a profitable 
investment. 

The panic of 1907, like the panic of 1893, had hit him 
another blow, as it were the second blow to a pugilist still 
groggy from his first one. Before the end of 1908 Sullivan 
incurred the most grievous loss of all: he had to give up his 
beloved cottage at Ocean Springs. In the day when railways 
were generous with free passes, especially if a traveller's 
brother was Superintendent of Lines, the 8oo-mile journey 
from Chicago down to the Gulf had been delightfully no 
expense. But Albert Sullivan now had no connection either 
with the Illinois Central or with his brother. Not only was 
the present cost of a ticket to New Orleans prohibitive to the 
needy architect; he could no longer pay even his Mexican- 

248 



THE FINAL REFUGE 

Negro gardener. "After eighteen years," he later said, in the 
effusion of romance he rather too often gave way to, "of 
tender care, the paradise, the poem of spring, Sullivan's other 
self, was wrecked by a wayward West Indies hurricane." It 
was so wayward, he meant, that it had hit Chicago. And the 
roses in the garden, of a hundred kinds, degenerated to the 
dog-rose of their origin. Then what of the portrait of the fair 
lady with the red hair? It had gone with the house, to- 
gether with all the furniture, gone to the Hottinger rile 
factory in Chicago, of all places, which firm had taken title 
to the cottage in toto. Sullivan had had neither the heart nor 
the purse to go down and remove even a few of his things. 

The decline of the unhappy man seemed to reach no 
bottom. During the next year he had nothing to live on but 
a fee for designing another country house, a hundred miles 
away in Wisconsin. Only the well-spring of his inventiveness 
never failed him: he drew a long low house with gigantic 
overhanging verandas, held up by cantilever supports which 
recalled the Biblical phrase "everlasting arms." 

This single commission, distinctive though remote, was 
not enough to enable him to cling any longer to his historic 
offices within the colonnade of Auditorium Tower. Sullivan 
was at last obliged to move to two small rooms, lower down 
in the Tower of his own making. 

At this grim turn of events (in the autumn of 1909) the 
faithful George Elmslie, his chief of staff ever since the 
departure of Frank Lloyd Wright, begged leave to resign. 
He had gallantly faced hardship with his master, assumed 
responsibility like a veritable partner, furnished ideas and 
created designs of his own, run the office during Sullivan's 
long absences in the South, wrestled with the endless plagues 
and vexations of a business dwindling to a shadow. But now 
Elmslie saw clearly that he had lingered in this office too 
long for his own good. Since Sullivan had neither work to 

249 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

do nor funds wherewith to pay his colleagues as much as they 
were worth, even Ekoslie found no alternative to seeking 
occupation elsewhere* 

Upon hearing this decision Sullivan, fearful of being left 
alone, displayed a degree of bitterness. Had he not "made" 
Elmslie? In a sense, he had. But Elmslie had returned more 
than good value. Now only thirty-eight, he was of course 
still obliged to earn a living, nor was he really called upon to 
let himself be "unmade" from lack of both practice and 
income. Quitting as well Chicago as his old employer, he 
moved to Minneapolis, where he joined partnership with none 
other than William Purcell, his former youthful colleague on 
the Sullivan staff, now (since 1906) returned from his final 
studies in California, and in active practice nearer home. 

However litde work the Sullivan office had to do, its 
master obviously had to replace Elmslie with someone, if only 
to reassure possibly prospective clients. But no designer of 
Elmslie's experience, not to mention his ability, would work 
for so litde as Elmslie, from devotion, had so long continued 
to do, and in consequence the master was obliged to look for 
a young man to whom the opportunity of becoming a pupil 
of Louis Sullivan meant more than the small salary offered. 
Youth in a draftsman is immaterial if the staff be large. This 
had been the case in the busding early days of Elmslie and 
Wright. Now, with a staff fewer than a one-legged hen's 
toes, youth was not likely to engender confidence in outsiders. 
Yet Sullivan had no other choice. He tried to fill Elmslie's 
gap by engaging a boy just turned twenty-one, and just out 
of architectural school 

It was characteristic of the master, however, that he was a 
percipient judge of candidates. Parker Berry was a young 
Nebraskan, a six-footer, but slender, with light brown hair, 
and features so finely formed that they were what is called 
"clean-cut." He was alert, nervous, and talented, and though 

250 



THE FINAL REFUGE 

receptive, he did not agree with everything Sullivan said. 
Sullivan liked that. Berry was determined, it appeared, to 
develop according to his own lights. Sullivan liked that, too, 
from someone newly hatched from the despised architectural 
schools. So swift was Berry as a draftsman, and so accurate, 
that with the small amount of work in the office his employer 
needed no other staff for two years* 

The acquisition of Berry might have carried a ray of hope 
if any commissions had come in. But the departure of Elmslie 
had in fact brought Sullivan to the end of a chapter. If one 
thing more was needed to make him sense the bleakness of 
his lot it would be the loss of his art collection. At length the 
sacrifice, even of these treasures, grew imperative. They had 
adorned his houses in Hyde Park, in Lake Park Avenue, in 
Kimbark Avenue, then filled the hotel flats he occupied with 
Margaret, at the Windermere, the Virginia, the Lessing 
Annex, until she went away, and of late though no doubt a 
storage house now held many of them the rooms he lived in 
alone. The wrench was painful. He began to pack up. 

At the end of November 1909 he sent almost the entire 
list to auction sale in Wabash Avenue, whence some of the 
things had actually been purchased, the property either of 
previous ill-starred collectors or of indifferent heirs: rugs, 
paintings, tapestry, statuettes, jade, bijoux, even his library. 
Not only was Louis Sullivan denuding himself of his aesthetic 
delights; he was destroying, by disposal of them, an unwritten 
diary of his foraging journeys across America in better days. 

There were debts to be cleared, and the architect paid 
them. Then for nearly a year he lived on the rest of the 
proceeds before he obtained an order. It reached him in a 
curious way. In the neighboring state of Iowa (where the 
rather unstable John Edelmann had failed as a farmer) in the 
town of Cedar Rapids, one T. H. Simmons, the leading 
churchman though not the parson of a Methodist congrega- 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

tion, let it be known that he wished to build a new church. 
Purcell, on behalf of his firm which now included Elmslie, 
went down from Minneapolis to see Simmons* As they 
conferred, Purcell talked much of Sullivan's methods, and 
offered to submit plans within the sum named by Simmons- 
drawn in the manner originated by Sullivan. Since Simmons 
stipulated only that a great deal of room be provided for the 
"social" side of the devotions of his flock, Purcell explained 
the principle of "form following function/* So much agreed, 
he went away and drew the plans, with Elmslie. 

It may be observed by the way that Elmslie was still 
wedded to the wastebasket. "We were continually beset," 
said Purcell, "to forestall him from throwing away documents 
and memoranda." Their typist was kept on the jump fishing 
records out of that alluring receptacle. 

When Purcell returned to Cedar Rapids and showed his 
firm's drawings to Simmons and the local "board," the archi- 
tect thought that Simmons approved them. But the next thing 
that Purcell heard was that Simmons had gone to Chicago 
to consult Sullivan. 

It was in October 1910 that Sullivan tickled the imagina- 
tion of Simmons, such as it was, into a fever to build a 
"complete institutional church." The rough idea was a semi- 
circle, with a rather secular tower, and against the flat side of 
the semicircle seven large rooms, some subdivided, while the 
rounded edge of the roof, pitched low, should overhang. 
There were to be windows at three levels. Within, one should 
find pews sloping, as in a theater, concentric with aisles 
between, and a gallery to seat half again as many worshippers 
looo in all. Simmons was struck by the invention, the 
originality, the "practicality" of this scheme, which he later 
said "met every fundamental requirement." 

From this commission there was promise of some financial 
relief. Nevertheless, Sullivan could no longer afford the 



THE FINAL REFUGE 

expensive Chicago dub, which in this year he gave as his 
address. For twenty years he had been a notable member, 
years at whose beginning the mere sight of him had enhanced 
the club's distinction, when he had been eminent, flourishing, 
everywhere deferred to. Now in obscurity, he was (in 
December) obliged to resign. It was to the credit of the Cliff 
Dwellers, a club a bit farther down South Michigan Avenue, 
that not long thereafter the name of Louis Sullivan appeared 
on their list as an honorary member. 

At this point, in the meager months of 1911, he found it 
unavoidable yet once more to break camp what a gypsy of 
wandering had he been! and moved to an old hotel which, 
unlike his domiciles in recent years, boasted nothing of 
"apartments," but offered just plain rooms. It was the Warner, 
in Cottage Grove Avenue at 33rd Street, three miles south of 
the Auditorium. In common with his earlier addresses, how- 
ever, this hotel did stand within five minutes of the Lake; and 
Sullivan liked to live near great water. He had known the 
Warner in its better days and in his; it was a kind of half-way 
house on the road to the Windermere; but now it operated 
under different managers and it had not improved from the 
change. 

For all that, Cottage Grove Avenue, only a little farther 
along, bordered Washington Park, a westward link with 
Jackson Park, of spectacular memory, and the new guest 
loved the greenery of gardens as he loved the shimmer of 
a lake. 



90 CHAPTER 



RETURN 

OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 



I 



N JUNE 1911, WHEN PROSPECTS WERE SOMEWHAT 

improving, Sullivan added to his staff Homer Sailor, 
a dark-haired good-looking young recruit of me- 
dium height who was just out of the Illinois Institute 
of Technology. But there was still not enough 
work to keep Sailor wholly occupied; he devoted 
his spare hours to teaching, in a trade school in 
Chicago. Within the Sullivan office he helped Berry 
on designs for banks (although in 1913, and for two 
years following, the two young men together drew 
also the plans for a store, the Van Allen Building, 
to be built in Clinton, Iowa.) 

The method of work required by Sullivan was 
that all drawings and details be done on manila 
paper stretched on a drawing-board of 28 by 42 
inches. Staff then traced these pencil-drawings on 
linen, in which process Sullivan demanded the 



THE RETURN OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 

utmost accuracy. In the case of the Van Allen store, the office 
had determined the center lines of the columns as 20 feet 
overall, and the scale, one-eighth inch to a foot. One day 
Sullivan stopped by Sailor's desk and inquired: 

"What center lines are those columns, Sailor?" 

"Twenty feet, sir." 

Sullivan picked up Sailor's scale, put it on the plan, and 
peered closely at the work. The last red line which he 
measured scaled 20 feet 2 inches. 

"If those columns are twenty feet o.c [on centers]," he 
objected, "draw them all exactly twenty feet. I don't rush 
you on this work. But I expect all my drawings to be 
absolutely correct." 

Yet, unlike the case a generation earlier, in the great days 
of the designing of the Auditorium, Sullivan was no longer a 
martinet in the office. He was now kindly to his staff. Their 
hours were nine to five, with one hour for lunch, and when 
the master came in of a morning he greeted his men good- 
humoredly. When visitors distinguished in the arts called, as 
they often did, sometimes architects, sometimes men of other 
arts, like the sculptors Gutzon Borglum and Lorado Taft, 
Sullivan always led them into the drafting-room and intro- 
duced them to his staff. 

Upon a certain afternoon Sailor, returning early from lunch, 
was whiling away a few minutes in the library. He picked 
out a book of poetry called "Old-fashioned Roses," of which 
at least the tide had at one time deeply appealed to Sullivan. 
But he had now lost his rose garden, pride of his cottage at 
Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Since 1908 he had possessed neither 
cottage nor roses. Sailor observed that the book was a 
presentation copy in 1900 from the author, James Whitcomb 
Riley, who had written on the fly-leaf: 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

To my friend Louis H* Sullivan: 

From the city's stifled streets, 
To the country's cool retreats, 
From the riot to the rest, 
Where hearts beat the placidest. 

At this moment Sullivan chanced to walk in. He scruti- 
nized what his colleague was reading. "I had forgotten," said 
the master, "that I owned such a book. Do you like poetry?" 

Sailor nodded, and said, in jest, that his employer could 
will the book to him. Sullivan took it up. He glanced through 
it. Then he signed his own name under Riley's, and handed 
the book to his young pupil. "You might as well have it 
now," he said. 

It was as if the very word, Roses, awakened memories too 
sad to endure. In 1900, the tide of these poems had been 
fitting enough, had signalized quite another matter, in the 
heyday of his wedded life with Margaret, in their own "cool 
retreat" down by Biloxi Bay. Riley's book better served, 
now, as a little testament of the friendship between master 
and man. 

Small jobs away from Chicago helped to take Sullivan's 
mind off his untoward fortunes. The news in Cedar Rapids 
that he was designing a church caused such a stir that its 
People's Savings Bank, perhaps not unaware of the new 
building of their rival over the border in Minnesota, sought 
out Sullivan to plan for them a new depository. As the 
thoughts of the architect had been playing upon churches, he 
apparently let his brooding over a Methodist shrine give way 
to the form of a cathedral: the nave, with chapels along the 
sides, and a clerestory lighting its upper reaches. 

Still this temple of the money-changers, a bank with 
lines boldly straight, was of course to retreat far from the 

256 



THE RETURN OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 

Gothic. Very simply Sullivan imposed upon a large plain 
low oblong block a much smaller oblong, like a set-back. To 
the corners of this smaller oblong he fixed short "pylons," 
with each face decorated, while between the clerestory 
windows rose three buttresses, topped with Sullivan's own 
species of gargoyle. Indoors, where the scheme was mainly 
white marble and oak, columns of steel inside wood, with 
their capitals carved, rose cathedral-fashion to the clerestory. 
The plain design with just a touch of ornament was as 
engaging as a man in black wearing a red carnation. 

But with the churchmen of Cedar Rapids the architect was 
faring less well than with the bankers. Since the Sunday 
school, adjoining the flat side of the semicircular church, was 
(by request of Simmons) to be "highly organized," Sullivan 
was asked to provide for a gymnasium. To the walls of the 
school he intended to apply most of his decoration; and for 
the roof of the church he designed "a dome of many-coloured 
glass." But the bids for this whole work ran to twice the 
figure that Simmons had contemplated; in dudgeon, he de- 
manded that Sullivan redraft to fit the purse. The men parted 
in peppery mood. 

Nor, upon the heels of the praise earned by the bank 
building, was Sullivan inclined to repentance. In the Archi- 
tectural Record (January 1912) Montgomery Schuyler, the 
critic who had never faltered in backing Sullivan, wrote that 
the interior of this bank offered "provision for every function 
and expression to every provision." Of the designer he 
buoyantly added: "There is no denying that a new work by 
Louis Sullivan is the most interesting event which can happen 
in the architectural world today. There is nothing like the 
professional interest his works inspire." But if the profession 
at large had been as enthusiastic for Sullivan as Schuyler 
believed, or wanted to believe, it is unlikely that clients would 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

now have kept so aloof from the designer of the Transporta- 
tion Building, however "expensive" he might be, as to reduce 
him to less than one commission a year. 

He modified his plans for the Methodists. He then 
engaged in further interchanges with Simmons. What Sim- 
mons wanted, as Purcell afterward said, was not a church, 
but "a Y.M.C.A. with a chapel." The cost, it now appeared, 
was still too high. But Sullivan was averse to sacrificing his 
distinctive ornamentation for cheap stencils and mass-produced 
"art-glass," and in March, after an angry rebuttal, he dismissed 
the penurious churchman altogether. 

In the midst of this fracas there arose another contretemps 
for Sullivan involving his old pupils, Purcell and Elmslie, in 
which the preference, sad to say for the master, went in the 
opposite direction. The confidence of Chicagoans in him, 
once supreme, had almost evaporated. But Henry Babson, 
for whom in 1907 Sullivan had designed the house in nearby 
Riverside, wished to build five stories of steel for the Chicago 
Edison Company, and he did consider proposals from Sullivan. 
Then Babson discovered that since Elmslie had left Sullivan's 
office the master had no "organization" other than the pupil 
Parker Berry. 

Babson paused. But he underestimated Berry, that assistant 
whom Sullivan had chosen as carefully as he had chosen 
Frank Lloyd Wright. Berry was developing fast, and not as 
a mere imitator of his employer; he was both knowledgeable 
within himself and capable of applying what he knew. From 
Berry, Sullivan did not exact compliance when reasonable 
differences from his own views seemed well taken. Other 
architects in Chicago were recognizing Berry's talent, nor 
did they hesitate to prophesy that it would come to flower. 

Nevertheless Babson, whose mind ran to numbers, re- 
mained uneasy over Sullivan's "small" staff. The master of 
business did not accept the design of the master of art. 

259 



THE RETURN OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 

Bitterly Sullivan had to hear that his own old staff, Elmslie 
and Purcell, whom he had hired in their callow days, and to 
whom he had taught so much of what they best knew, had 
been retained by Babson for the Edison building. 

And then occurred a grotesque aftermath in the case of 
the Cedar Rapids church, an aftermath which in the end 
took on the garb of an outrageous compliment. In November, 
Simmons carried Sullivan's plans to an obscure architect in 
Chicago, called Jones, who had built a few churches, and asked 
him to redraw the work "on the cheap." Jones complied with 
a vengeance. He ruined the grand curve of the roof by 
supporting it with piers as diverse as stalagmites. Even Sim- 
mons perceived that the revision was frightful. 

Delicately, like Agag, he went creeping back to Elmslie, 
of whom he begged rescue from the mess. Not to rescue 
Simmons, but to save Sullivan, was the thing that gained the 
aid of Elmslie, who, with the gentleman from Cedar Rapids 
at his elbow, spent two days tracing illustrations to show him 
not only where Jones had run to absurdity, but how to retain 
the general outlines which Sullivan had originated. 

Simmons scurried back to Jones, bullied him into drawing 
the design as now recommended, then returned to Cedar 
Rapids to report upon his conquest of the architects. When 
at last the mutilated scheme emerged from surgery, in 1913, 
Simmons broke ground, and built what he loudly proclaimed 
as his "Sullivan church." Sullivan he paid; but in order to 
conceal from his "board" his deliverance by an architect 
whose plans he had in the first instance rejected, he squirmed 
out of paying Elmslie. 

If Sullivan had any laughter left in him, he must have 
given way to it at the closing of this book. But times continued 
relentlessly hard. Pride no doubt kept him from appealing to 
his brother. In any case Albert Sullivan was no longer within 
easy reach, since he had (at the end of 191 1) left the Missouri 

259 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

Pacific, and with his family moved East* He was settled far 
away in his (and his wife's) native State, having been 
appointed, in New York, Chairman of the Railway Mail Pay 
Committee. And the Sullivan brothers, the victims of domestic 
turmoil, met each other no more. 

One thing after another, even connections not very costly, 
the unfortunate architect had to give up. In 1913 he ceased 
to be a member of the American Institute of Architects, 
because he failed to pay its dues. 

Yet Sullivan found work of sorts, not metropolitan work, 
but in the backwaters. Actually the capering Simmons had 
done him a kind of service, not merely by boasting of the 
"Sullivan church," but by hushing up the rumpus over it. In 
the headlong Middle Western fashion, by which one town 
lays itself out to possess such a landmark as lends luster to 
another, three Iowa towns in succession Clinton, Algona, 
and Grinnell now emulated Cedar Rapids in aspiring to a 
work of Sullivan. 

The first was the Van Allen Building, of four stories only, 
horizontal like the Carson Pine Scott, but with three slender 
mullions breasting the front, and sprayed into foliage of 
terra cotta at the top. In the second town, the owner of the 
property thought he could start a bank if only he could get 
a Sullivan building to put it in. The architect made an 
attractive oblong with a big inset doorway, nine tall windows 
at the side, and little squares of ornament round the roof. It 
was conservatively impressive; but no charter for the bank 
was granted. The building became the haven of a house agent. 

In the third instance, a proposition more substantial, 
Sullivan travelled to Grinnell, met a committee of the 
Merchants' National Bank, and looked over the site. He then 
bought at a drugstore a few sheets of yellow paper. Sitting 
with the committee in a little room of the old bank, adjoining 
the president's, he took a common desk ruler and sketched 

260 



THE RETURN OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 

his entire plan. For three days he talked, redrew, amended 
his scheme as desired. Again he was offering a "strong-box." 

But it was one of his most daring adventures in color and 
ornament. The brick, though with extremes from deep blue 
to bread-crust brown, he so skillfully distributed that its hue 
as a whole seemed to be garnet. The cornice, of diminutive 
arches surmounted by three-pointed stars against the sky, he 
inlaid with gold; it faintly echoed the Florentine in spite of 
himself. At the side there was a huge window, forty feet 
long; Sullivan divided it with nine uprights in gold leaf, to 
harmonize with the red wall; he saw no reason to confine 
crimson and gold always to an interior. 

The thing most startling, however, was a massive design 
in gray and gilt over the doorway; this design was in five 
layers, a circle, a square, a circle, a diamond, and a third circle 
bound by squared bars. Decorations on the diamond he 
wrought like scrolls on a bracelet; from its three upper tips 
he projected ornament of the contour of bunches of grapes. 
Finally he filled the inner circle with stained glass. If this 
lavish door did not lure depositors to the bank, it might at 
least scare away the impecunious. 

Indoors, Sullivan tinted the walls and large window with 
the softer colors favored by Puvis de Chavannes: yellow, 
lavender, peacock blue, olive green, with a skylight in cream 
and turquoise. Terra cotta medallions rose above the grilles; 
the piers bore flowerbowls round their capitals. Although 
professionally he might be nearing the end of his day, 
Sullivan ever knew how to look at a sunset. 

With this little monument done, he in 1914 departed from 
the hospitable state of Iowa, and returned to Chicago, as it 
were to await commissions for more banks elsewhere. No- 
body wanted him to design anything but banks. He had no 
engineer; but perhaps engineers were not indispensable for 
one-story buildings. So many years had he railed against 

261 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Pan Two 

"Roman" banks, and bankers in togas, sandals, speaking Latin, 
that his invective was coming home to roost. In this present 
year, sure enough, a commission came in for a bank in Ohio; 
another for a bank in Indiana. Sick of banks, he wearily 
repeated his florid designs for the big window, the big door. 
One might think he had enough work to keep him from 
fretting; but a little bank or two a year left him idle most of 
the time, and he still lived in want. 

He heard of his wife. She was an authoress at last. Under 
the name of Margaret Davies Sullivan she published (in 1914) 
from an obscure firm in New York, a romance called Goddess 
of the Dawn. It was romantically illustrated by one George 
Bridgeman. The husband of the author may well have reflected 
that the tide of the novel was rather like Margaret herself. 

Sullivan followed the fortunes of this book, but later had 
to admit to George Elmslie that "it did not sell." 

Not the echo from a separated wife, but rather the sight 
of a long-separated pupil, was the thing that refreshed this 
ebbing year. It is said that Frank Lloyd Wright attended a 
lecture which Sullivan was giving in Chicago, and that after- 
ward Wright greeted his old master with much affection, 
that Wright even wept. It was their first meeting in twenty 
years, their first exchange of words since 1894. Sullivan was 
not a man who easily forgave; but he responded in this case 
without rancor. 

During the long era of their mutual silence Wright had 
gathered renown. His outstanding advantage was that within 
himself he combined the abilities of both Adler and Sullivan: 
like Adler, and like Major Jenney, Wright was an engineer 
by training; like Sullivan, he was a designer not only by 
training, but from rare natural talent. Ever since leaving the 
employ of Sullivan, Wright had built houses, hither and yon 
in the Middle West, dozens of them, in the horizontality to 

262 



THE RETURN OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 

befit the prairies, the linked windows to increase the light, 
the overhanging roofs to decrease the heat, the balconies, the 
cantilevers, the spacious partitionless interiors. He had changed 
the residential face of the whole region. 

Nor was this all. When he put up a big edifice, like the 
Larkin Building (offices for a large factory) in Buffalo, 
Wright carried his own personality to the very furniture. 
This building was of magnesite, which the architect believed 
was the cement the Romans used. In straight line, flat plane, 
and the horizontal mode, easy to manage with desks and 
chairs of magnesite built in, with a top floor done as a 
restaurant and conservatory, and the roof a recreation-ground, 
it had awakened attention not only in reluctantly receptive 
America, but abroad, as a building "clean, airy, daylighted, 
and skylighted." 

Some time after the Larkin firm moved in, Kuno Francke 
came from Germany to Harvard, in 1908, as exchange 
professor. He visited Wright. The result of this visit was that 
in 1910 Wright published, in Germany, Ausgefiihrte Bauten 
und Entiviirfe. This book circulated so widely, in various 
continental countries, that on the heels of it Wright in the 
follpwing year doubled his success with another volume, 
Sonderheit. His reputation, in Europe, was made. Yet Europe 
was well aware owing to the presentation of Sullivan to 
Paris by Andre Bquilhet that in following Wright it was 
likewise following his master. The principles and the as- 
sertiveness of Wright confirmed, and spread, the original 
doctrine of Sullivan. 

The names of Wright and Sullivan in modern archi- 
tecture had now overlapped, and a meeting between them 
was hardly to be wondered at. Wright, having built in 
Wisconsin the home to which he had given the Welsh name 
"Taliesin," had ktely lost his own property by fire. If his 

263 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

reverses were only acute, while Sullivan's were chronic, a 
certain common ground of sympathy was likely to ease the 
course of their reconciliation. 

He called upon Sullivan in his shrunken office in Audito- 
rium Tower. It was seedy, and so was its occupant. Courage 
his old employer still had, Wright perceived, eyes that lighted 
up still, and touches of humor, but no more "strut." Not yet 
sixty, Sullivan was bent, gray, sagging; cigarettes had yellowed 
a finger, which now too seldom had reason to hold a pencil. 

In friendly fashion the visitor sat upon Sullivan's desk. Its 
untidiness shocked him. It was littered with papers no longer 
of use, with dusty samples of materials for building, with 
battered photographs of the little country banks. To this 
had Louis Sullivan come down, from the glories of the 
Transportation Building, the Wainwright, McVicker's, the 
Auditorium Theatre, not to mention the jubilant Guaranty 
offices and the garlanded store of Carson Pirie Scott. Wright 
only gathered that in "club row," South Michigan Avenue, 
his master was scraping up such comfort as he could get 
at the Cliff Dwellers, secure at least, and at last, in his honorary 
membership. 

The two artists had come together again, the two minds 
to whom American architecture meant the native thing; they 
had saluted, and with no risk of a quarrel renewed. 



264 



21 



CHAPTER 



kULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 



G 



4LAUDE BRAGDON, A PLUMP SMOOTH-FACED, BALD 

man, an architect a little older than Frank Lloyd 
Wright, but now devoting his time more and more 
to journalism in architecture, remained quite as 
aware as either Wright or Montgomery Schuyler 
of Sullivan's true stature. Having arrived from New 
York in 191 5 to lecture at the Chicago Art Institute, 
Bragdon asserted in the course of his talk that 
Sullivan's principles had not only borne fruit al- 
ready, but that they would prevail. The audience 
interrupted with resounding applause. The lecturer, 
looking up, noticed a man not applauding, but 
"deeply touched." It was Sullivan himself, who had 
joined the audience out of courtesy to a junior with 
whom he had patiently corresponded years before. 
It was not that Sullivan disliked writing letters; 
he loved to write anything. But he was not as stern 

265 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

a critic of his own prolixity as he was of the inhibitions of 
others. Gloomily ruminating upon the fate of Democracy, a 
Man Search, those 180,000 words lying in the dust of his 
desk for eight years, he carried the manuscript to Harriet 
Monroe, whose "choral song" had in better days figured in 
the opening ceremonies of the Auditorium. 

In the subsequent quarter of a century Miss Monroe had 
come far, had published several volumes of verse, and had in 
1912 raised an endowment to sustain a magazine she called 
Poetry. It was thriving. Miss Monroe scrutinized Sullivan's 
Democracy, perceived the poetic feeling which informed 
parts of it, and from its pile of leaves drew (for her issue of 
March 1916) an excerpt to fill a double page. To this 
contribution she gave the tide, "Wherefore the Poet?" 

"What is poetry?" Sullivan asked in these lines. "The very 
soul of adventure the going forth, the daring to do, the vision 
of doing, and tie how to do the vision which creates a situa- 
tion. Hence is the poet ever the pioneer. . . . 

"The spirit of poetry is the very spirit of mastery. Hence 
the poets of the past have been the masters of the multitudes of 
the past. And such is the case today." 

So had Sullivan, in these few chopped paragraphs, the 
satisfaction of seeing a little of his labor reach the light. Even 
the tiny excerpt meant to him, in print, a great deal, for it 
embodied the inspiration that had underlain the whole of his 
architecture, an inspiration, be it said, which his younger 
staff tended to catch from their master. 

In 1916, after Homer Sailor had enjoyed five years of 
training under Sullivan, and Parker Berry likewise nearly seven 
years, both Berry and Sailor sat for the Illinois State Board 
examinations for architects. Happily for them, the problem in 
design was a small-town bank, departing from their own 
experience with such plans merely in its requirement of offices 
on an upper floor. Berry, for his part, finished his design an 

266 



SULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 

hour ahead of the time allotted for it. The papers were marked 
on a basis of 200. Berry made a perfect score; it was the first 
one ever given by the State Board. 

He was, of course, designated chief draftsman by Sullivan. 
In view of Berry's prestige, new commissions might be 
expected in the office. At all events, Sullivan added another 
man to his staff, Frank Elbert, and for good measure an office 
boy. Then, from Owatonna, Minnesota, where the master had 
built his first and most impressive bank, came an invitation to 
submit plans for a new high school. Upon this design Sullivan 
and Berry together set to work with gusto. 

He was glad, during this period, to reply to correspondence 
of a professional nature from Frank Lloyd Wright, who had 
lately gone to Tokyo to design a hotel that should stand against 
earthquakes. It refreshed Sullivan to exchange letters with an 
old pupil who so fluently spoke his own architectural language. 
When the master gained no opportunity to wield a pencil, he 
must ply a pen. 

Incidental to his melancholy, but nothing worse, was the 
circumstance that in January 1917 his wife Margaret obtained 
a divorce. If after a lapse of some ten years she named "the 
lady with the red hair," it had taken Margaret a long time to 
make up her mind. The position, rather, was that Margaret 
Sullivan had not succeeded in a career as a novelist. At 
forty-five, no doubt still comely, she may well have found 
a third suitor. 

Her discarded husband was not left brooding, for the year 
brought him a mild resurgence of activity even if it was only 
another bank to build. He was never to repeat, it seemed, the 
"magisterial conviction" of his Wainwright Building, nor the 
masculine hauteur of the Guaranty. The rumor was that 
clients, after the example of Babson, declined to entrust him 
with big commissions "because he lacked an engineering 
partner." Works of such proportions were being awarded to 

267 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

architects of fewer years and less talent. But Sullivan did 
receive a second call to Ohio. It came from the little town of 
Sidney, with a quarter of the population of Newark, where he 
had built his earlier bank in this State. 

The gentlemen of Sidney characteristically contemplated 
a bank "twice as big as Newark's." After the directors in 
conclave had told Sullivan what they wanted, he went to look 
at the vacant corner bought for the building. Then he crossed 
the street, and sat down on its curb for two days, smoking 
cigarettes by the score, "communing with the problem," as 
Elmslie had said, "far away from pencil and paper," looking up 
at the site, looking down to flick his ash, with never a glance 
elsewhere. 

On the third day he returned to the mystified directors, 
seeing in his mind's eye the complete design. Rapidly he 
sketched it, and in two words stated its cost. One timorous 
man, a bit unhinged by the plan, and unaware of what 
constituted a red rag to Sullivan, murmured a preference for 
"classic columns." Their guest angrily stood up; he told the 
meeting they could get a thousand architects to do that, but 
only one to design his kind. Sweeping his sketch off the table, 
he made ready to go. The directors in some agitation persuaded 
him to pause. They reconsidered. And they ended by accept- 
ing the plan as drawn. Peremptory behavior of this sort, years 
before, had lost him commissions in Chicago. But in Sidney 
it worked. There was fight still left in Louis Sullivan. 

In outline this bank, another oblong block, resembled the 
bank in Grinnell; but Sullivan now shifted the decorative 
emphasis away from the doorway to a great side-window. 
The color of the brick was dominandy wine-red. The 
window, in ten projecting mullions, he surmounted with a 
panel in pale green mosaic, to contain the name of the bank 
in gold leaf, while the window frame ran from mottled green 
into brown and gradually into buff, all terra cotta. Above the 

268 



SULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 

panel appeared three terra cotta baskets of fruit and flowers, 
topped with truncated narrow pyramids. He made the 
cornice a handsome frieze of hexagons on end (not equilat- 
eral) and interlaced. 

As for the doorway, if it was less compelling than the one 
at Grinnell, it was no less artistic. The actual entrance stood 
relatively plain; but an immense arch above it framed a field 
of pale blue mosaic, with a moulding in purple, buff, and 
green, enclosing a semi-circle of single flowers, separately, on 
white hexagons. To carrry out this decoration, Sullivan again 
retained that old crony of his youth, Louis Millet, with whom, 
from the Beaux Arts, he had on many a night rambled round 
the rive gauche, and whose ornamenting of the Auditorium 
Theatre had marked the ascendancy of them both. Together 
they had roistered down the years in Chicago; it was a happy 
association, if perhaps a debilitating one. 

This bank in Sidney received indoors a plainer finish than 
any of the other "strong-boxes." The directors wanted light 
and space above all. But Sullivan indulged as ever his passion 
for color: opaque glass in Nile green with ornaments in amber 
and in mandarin red, with a skylight in mother-of-pearl, 
iridescent. Upon partitions with brick piers rested oak beams, 
bearing bands of terra cotta scrolls inlaid, while each corner 
pier supported large vases for indirect lighting. Finally 
Sullivan put in "air-conditioning," a thing as "new-fangled" 
as any refinement of construction he had ever introduced. 

He called this the best of his banks. But these little banks 
in small towns went farther than either he, or his contempo- 
raries, or his successors ever realized. The astonishing display 
of hues, tints, shades, which they exhibited so harmoniously 
both in contrast and in gradation afforded Sullivan repeated 
chances to beat out of his compatriots what he had called 
their "cowardice about colour." It was the feats of color in 
these banks which kept reminding America, perhaps, of the 

269 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

color that Sullivan had flung at her in his Transportation 
Building. Many people who never saw the banks were grow- 
ing aware of the architecture they signalized 

At the turn of the year 1917, notwithstanding the 
slackness in the demand for architecture owing to the War, 
the office had engaged a fourth member of staff, Adolph 
Budina, whom Sailor had met as a colleague among the 
teachers in the trade school. Although graduated only recently 
from the Architectural School of the University of Illinois, 
Budina had also gained in Chicago drafting experience in the 
office of Holabird & Roche. Sullivan respected that firm. He 
had Budina put to work on drawings for the bank in Ohio. 

The inventiveness of Sullivan combined with the talent of 
Berry were now producing a remarkable group of plans for 
the high school in Owatonna. In due course the master 
proceeded north with his sketches to meet the School Board. 
This meeting, alas, effected in his career, already so circum- 
scribed, what may be reckoned a turning point that was not 
for the better. In Sullivan the blood of Irish and German, of 
French and Italian, was too often at war with itself. He was 
by nature explosive, a very composite of prima donnas. 
Arrived in the little town in Minnesota, and having sat down 
to confer with the dignitaries of the school, the architect 
let himself fall into an altercation. It was a foolish dispute. 
It was entirely unrelated to his drawings. But Sullivan too 
strongly refuted an opinion of one worthy member. This 
incident lost the visitor his commission. 

In the midst of a European war, then, with America just 
entering it, the office was left with only the small bank in 
Sidney, Ohio a job already half done to keep it in work. 
Nor was the Owatonna episode the extent of the adversity 
that befell the firm of Sullivan. An ill-starred page of its 
history was now to repeat itself. As the drawings for the 

270 



SULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 

Sidney bank neared completion in the spring of 1917, and 
further commissions failed to come in, it was no less than to 
be expected that Sailor and Elbert both withdrew from the 
staff. Budina did remain; he perhaps desired a little longer 
association with the master at any cost. But Sullivan grew 
very dejected over the outlook. Upon a certain afternoon he 
strode in, from lunch, and took Berry to task for doing work 
"on his own," whereupon arose a scene precisely like the one 
in the case of Frank Lloyd Wright twenty-five years before. 
Budina avers it was presently evident that Sullivan had taken 
"one or two more drinks than ordinarily." While it was true 
that Berry, for one thing, was building a small bank in 
Hegewisch, a suburb of Chicago, and for another a larger 
commission a kind of Home for the Aged, in Princeton, 
Illinois, his defense was that lack of commissions in the 
Sullivan office had kept him only half engaged. But the 
master trampled down that plea. He accused his chief drafts- 
man not only of stealing the Sullivan style of architecture, 
but of stealing clients from the firm. In consequence of this 
fracas, Berry packed up and quitted the office. 

Nobody was surprised, probably least of all Sullivan; yet 
Sullivan was desolated. For eight years this talented young 
architect had stuck to an office operating at the rate of 
perhaps one commission a year. If the training he received 
was priceless, the income he earned was negligible. If because 
of his youth he had not attracted clients, without him 
Sullivan might well have had to retire altogether. Berry's 
ambition equalled his ability, and now, at the age of nearly 
thirty, he was eager to strike out for himself, eager in fact 
beyond his strength for he was not a robust man. Sullivan 
must have sensed from early in the tenure of this young 
assistant that he would stay, in an office incessantly shrinking, 
only long enough to learn what he had come to learn from 

271 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart Two 

a master. But that did not make Berry's going any less a 
calamity. And what was the use of replacing him now? 

Budina was then left alone, to wind up the work on the 
Sidney bank. Meantime he, too, cast about for a more 
substantial post. Finishing with the bank by the middle of 
July, he also resigned, to take up war-construction work in 
Toledo. Even the office boy departed, having found in a 
nearby ticket agency an occupation sufficiently rewarding. So 
it came about that the master, for the first time in his career, 
paced the floors of 1 600 Auditorium Tower a solitary man. He 
was in 1918, in the midst of a war, left empty-handed, as so 
often before; but he was now almost destitute. 

It was perhaps little wonder that the distraught Sullivan 
fell into the clutches of a promoter, or "job-getter," the kind 
that swarm in every city. To such a person the great architect, 
in desperation, lent a pathetic, a receptive ear. On August 10 
he confided to his former draftsman the scheme in view: 

My dear Budina: 

Glad to get your postal card, and to know that you are 
pleasantly occupied. As to my own affairs, the bottom has 
dropped out for the present. 

I am entering into negotiations with a party who knows 
the banking game, and is a high-grade salesman. We were 
brought together by a party in whom I have entire confi- 
dence. The idea is to commercialize my talent and reputation. 
We are only in the preliminaries; but if the deal goes through 
it may prove exceedingly important, and probably lucrative. 

Such things of course take time. But if this man is the man 
he seems to be, he is the man I have been looking for, for 
years, but have never found to my satisfaction. So we shall 
see, and I will keep you posted. And will ask you to keep me 
posted concerning yourself. 

Paul is working in the Scott ticket-office, across the street. 
I am in excellent health. 

Sincerely, 
Louis H. Sullivan. 

272 



SULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 

Naturally Sullivan had nothing more to keep Budina 
"posted" about, in respect of the "high-grade salesman." Six 
weeks later, September 27, the master, although grateful to 
Budina for a tip about another possible bank to design, was 
writing rather forlornly of the Sidney bank, and anticipating 
that he might have to give up an office larger and more 
expensive than he could maintain: 

I have yours, 2 id inst., and was glad to hear from you, as 
I do not wish to lose track of you. I note what you say as to 
Chillicothe (Ohio), and will investigate. 

I was in Sidney last week. The building is under roof, and 
is making a sensation with the natives. It is possible that one 
of the national banks there will build. I had a long interview 
with the cashier. Still, you know, bankers are conservative, 
and slow to move. There are three live bank prospects in 
Lima (Ohio) ; but they are a year or more ahead. 

I am very well indeed. No insomnia. And I have been quite 
busy completing all the little details for Sidney. 

I have also been house-cleaning. It's an awful job, getting 
rid of old and useless stuff. I wish to get double-reefed in 
case I have to move . . . 

At sixty-one his powerful physique was sustaining him, 
drink or no drink. Budina believes that Sullivan drank more 
than was good for him only rarely. While he was "house- 
cleaning," one may wonder whether he threw out his Cer- 
tificate of Award attesting the prize he won for the great 
Transportation Building at the World's Fair. Budina had one 
day come upon it, tossed into a cupboard, gathering dust. 

On the last day of the year he heard again from Sullivan, 
who desolately said he was trying to get war work from the 
Government: 

Thank you for your Xmas card remembrance. It was very 
thoughtful of you. 

I trust everything is going well with you, and will con- 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part T<wo 

tinue to go well during the coming year. As for me, the bot- 
tom has dropped out, and the future is a blank. 

The legitimate building industries are simply paralyzed. 
Fortunately I am in good health, and I am looking around to 
see if there is some opening with Uncle Sam. 

I should be gkd to hear from you at any time, and to 
know how you are getting on. With kindest personal re- 
gards . . . 

But Louis Sullivan, die Government must have thought, 
was not good enough to build such edifices as munition 
factories. As the master indicated in a final letter, February 
2, 1918, he had indeed "had to move." After distinguishing 
Auditorium Tower for twenty-seven years by his occupancy, 
distinguishing thus further the landmark of Chicago that he 
had created, he was out. The owners deigned to allow him 
two ill-lighted rooms on the second floor of the least desirable 
side of die building, and from this relatively unimpressive 
address, "Suite 21, 431 S. Wabash Avenue," he wrote Budina, 
suggesting that, although workless, hope within him sprang 
eternal, hope even to die point that he should gain enough 
work to employ his draftsman once more. But for the moment 
Sullivan had to let him proceed elsewhere: 

I have received from the Civil Service Commission, Wash- 
ington, D. G, an enquiry concerning your ability, character, 
loyalty, etc. I have, as is your due, returned a favorable an- 
swer, urging your acceptance by the Government. 

I did this however with something of a pang, for I had 
hoped to have you with me again before long. 

I have two bank prospects in hand, one in Ohio, one in 
Iowa, the latter a bank and two fireproof buildings on a cor- 
ner lot 80 by 132 to an alley both good commissions. Both 
prospects appear to be live wires, and I am following them up 
diligently. 

I was in Sidney recently. The building is not quite fin- 
ished, owing to delivery delays. It is a beautiful piece of work 
mechanically. 



SULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 

Please drop me a line, telling me what grade you are ap- 
plying for. I suppose you could resign later if circumstances 
should warrant. 

Note change of address. I have moved to the second floor 
in a back-avenue front, and have a suite of rooms. Am not yet 
fully settled in. 

This letter is important as giving the time of his move- 
January 1918 a date hitherto obscure. 

It was doubtless a handicap of some weight, both from the 
point of view of potential clients, and from that of candidates 
for posts in the office, that Sullivan was so denuded of staff. 
This deterrent he was reckoning to offset by re-engaging the 
man he knew, Budina, who for the sake of friendliness might 
have made allowances for the uncertainty of commissions. 
But Budina joined the military for the duration, and his 
correspondence ceased. When, moreover, the "live wires" 
sought by the master went dead not only in Iowa, but in 
Ohio, Louis Sullivan of Wabash Avenue faced a vacuous year. 

In June, Claude Bragdon, who more than any other 
architect was showing anxiety over the plight of such a man 
as Sullivan, thought of a scheme to which his distracted 
friend, for mental relief, might turn his abilities. He exhorted 
Sullivan to rewrite "Kindergarten Chats" to make a book. 
Their author embraced the suggestion with alacrity. He had 
to admit that in the course of seventeen years he had modified 
some of his ideas; certain Chats required redrafting, others 
toning up, still others toning down. 

All summer and autumn he worked, by day in nearby 
Washington Park, on a bench in the sun, amid the flowers 
and shrubs; by night, after dinner, at a small table in the Cliff 
Dwellers. And when the task was done, and he was hoping to 
see his book turn into a Christmas present to himself, the 
same answer rebounded as to A Man Search. Bragdon's en- 
thusiasm proved ill-considered. No publisher would risk 
Kindergarten Chats. 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

Though Sullivan had from the beginning insisted to 
Lyndon Smith that these Chats were for the "laity," readers 
to the various publishers concerned could see in them no 
general appeal. The essays, the dialogues, were for young 
architects, whose number was limited and whose purchasing 
power at their age was more limited still; and the profession, 
as a whole, was unresponsive to Sullivan the dreamer, the 
iconoclast, worst of all, the "radical." The rebuff was painful. 
Yet had not Lyndon Smith, himself a young architect, 
warned the author, at the start, that the Chats would hardly 
"strike deep" enough? 

It so happened that not only the failure of Kindergarten 
Chats marked this Christmas season of 1918. On December 18, 
Sullivan heard the news of the untimely death of Parker 
Berry, at his home in Princeton, Illinois. Suddenly, after the 
master had for several months sat in fretful idleness, a singular 
ray of light penetrated his dim rooms. It so happened that 
when Parker Berry had left him, Berry got hold of Sailor, 
then also free, and proposed going into partnership with him. 
But in 1918, just as their plans were maturing, the epidemic of 
"Spanish influenza" caught Berry, slim, almost frail, always 
overworked, and he succumbed. After the labor of launching 
a firm of his own, this young architect of so much more 
artistic promise than physical fitness had lived barely a year. 
Sullivan may have felt a forlorn measure of pride that so 
young a man died not an assistant but, at least in Berry's own 
estimation, a Sullivan graduate. 

The loss to American architecture, it may be said, was 
nearly comparable to its loss in the untimely death of John 
Root in 1891. Berry knew the "Sullivan idiom" virtually as 
well as the master himself did. However, hard upon this blow 
it chanced that Sailor, being recommended by a kinsman as 
an architect, was on the point of winning a commission of 
considerable attractiveness for a bank, with offices on its 

276 



SULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 

upper floors. Although after qualifying in architecture Sailor 
had resigned from the Sullivan office, he now thought it an 
advantage, Berry having died, to re-associate himself with 
the master in this sizable job. 

Sullivan of course leaped at the opportunity. In good time, 
all went well with the collaboration. To the satisfaction of 
both men, a sound yet original scheme of building was drawn 
up. But then came the critical moment when, with the plans 
in hand, Sullivan and Sailor were to take chairs alongside the 
president of the bank and his committee. Had Sailor forgotten 
the Owatonna high school disaster? Even if he hadn't, he 
was scarcely in a position to caution his master. Sailor could 
only tremble, and pray. 

In the midst of the deliberations with the committee, 
Sullivan suggested plate-glass fronts for the tellers' cages. He 
had invented this style of designing later so widely adopted. 
But the president, a man who unfortunately held views of 
his own, declared this idea was "silly." Sullivan, after his 
fashion, resented the remark. He made no bones about in- 
forming the president that he was not progressive, and had 
a lot to learn. The preference voiced by Sullivan for the 
glass fronts was right; but his insistence on being right was 
not tactful. Nor did his pride suffer him to apologize. 

Sad to say, the hapless history of Owatonna, only a year 
before, was re-enacted. Sullivan's counterpoise of hotheaded- 
ness, capped by his obduracy, lost him and Sailor the 
commission, much to the embarrassment of both Sailor and 
his sponsor. 

Yet the friendship of Sullivan and Sailor did not end 
thereby. If they were no further associated in designing, they 
did continue on amiable terms. Although Sullivan got no 
more work at all during 1918, as long as the War lasted, he 
retained a benevolent interest in his pupil, to whom he gave, 
as souvenirs, many sketches and drawings. In one of them 

277 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part T<wo 

lay unwitting irony: a pencil-sketch perspective of the 
Owatonna high school. 

It is the opinion of Adolph Budina that Sullivan for all 
his decline in his profession could still have maintained 
himself very comfortably but for his outbursts of tem- 
perament. 

And what would poor Berry have been given to work 
upon if he had remained with the master? One more little 
bank, in the dreary backwoods. For the decline went on. 
Shortly after the master had given Homer Sailor his last 
memento, in March 1919 an inscribed photograph of an 
oil-portrait of Sullivan by Frank Werner the great architect 
built his seventh bank, and his last This was his whole work 
for the year 1919. The only thing feebly different about this 
commission was that it came from another point of the 
compass, the State of Wisconsin. The village bore the name 
of Columbus. Sullivan's health was now so impaired, from 
the many excesses to which he lent himself because of 
"underwork," that he was hardly fit to launch into much 
freshness of design. He provided the same red brick in the 
same oblong, and the same long window at the side, though 
now ornamentally molded into an arcade of five. In die 
interior he simply bisected the space lengthwise, half for 
the depositors and the other half for the staff. At sixty-three 
Sullivan was a man endlessly tired, tired even after resting. 

In 1920, with postwar financial uneasiness from curtailed 
production reflected throughout the Middle West, and with 
Sullivan from utter lack of work unable to meet his rent 
even for the two little rooms allotted him lower down in the 
Tower, the proprietors of the Auditorium refused him further 
tenancy, in the building he had himself designed, in his 
landmark which had made Chicago the talk of the nation. 
Louis Sullivan, who was the Tower for thirty years, had to 
migrate to cheaper quarters. 

278 



SULLIVAN'S RECOURSES 

These he found at 1808 Prairie Avenue. Obliged to keep 
up the pretense of an office, wanly hoping for commissions 
that never came, he could not do otherwise. His new address 
had at least the convenience of being only twenty minutes 
away, on foot, from the Warner Hotel. George Elmslie 
called. His partnership in Minneapolis with Purcell had ended, 
Purcell having gone to live in California for his health, and 
Elmslie was to practice alone in Chicago. Sullivan received 
him as kindly, after the years, as he had received Frank Lloyd 
Wright. And "gentle George," deeply grieved at his master's 
pauperism, but powerless to relieve it professionally, remarked 
still in Sullivan "an eagle's eye, dominating, all-embracing." 
In retrospect Elmslie added, "I have seen that eye in die 
ecstasy of creation and in the depth of despair . . . and 
remember the spell it cast. No living man could cause that 
eye to waver or to flinch." 

Nor did Sullivan "waver" at praise from a boy drafts- 
man of sixteen the age of Sullivan himself under Frank 
Furness. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, young Bruce Goff, having to 
write (August 3, 1920) to the Western Architect) included a 
eulogy of the master. The editor forwarded those words to 
Prairie Avenue. "My dear young friend," Sullivan (August 7) 
addressed Goff, "It is always gratifying to know that we have 
well-wishers! ... I wish you to know, on my part, that I 
cordially appreciate and welcome your enthusiasm, which is 
quite splendid in one so young, and to extend the hope that 
you may never outgrow it." 

Sullivan, since the day he had lost Ocean Springs, pos- 
sessed no "place" of his own. Now he was reduced, even in 
the Warner, to two cabins of rooms, which together cost 
nine dollars a week, rooms nearly as bleak as his empty 
office. On fine days he escaped to his bench in Washington 
Park; in bad weather, to his deep chair by the fire in the Cliff 
Dwellers. These stations Louis Sullivan called his "recourses," 

279 



22 



CHAPTER 



s 



ULLIVAN AND SAARINEN 



w 

T Tm 



rHEN THE ARTIST FRANK WERNER PAINTED 

Sullivan, now clean-shaven, a smooth face brought 
out features much less noticeable in a bearded one 
his rather weak mouth, his parsnip nose. What litde 
hair remained was gray, and parted at the side 
instead of more becomingly down the center as he 
had once worn it. His cheeks seemed haggard. As 
his eyes had weakened after he was fifty, he used 
a pince-nez, through which in the portrait he was 
reading papers. Those luminous brown eyes, once 
so joyous and unshadowed, could not here be seen; 
but if Sullivan had glanced up (as in a photograph 
soon afterward he did), they would have struck a 
beholder as the eyes of a man with whom a world 
had dealt more harshly than justly. There was in 
them pain, want, yet defiance, and searching protest. 
This look remarkably contrasted with his clothes, 

280 



SULLIVAN AND SAARINEN 

which in both photograph and portrait were not only new, 
but handsomely cut; clubmates had no doubt seen to it that 
the dandy Louis Sullivan should at least enjoy a share of the 
sartorial perfection in which, ever after Paris, he had de- 
lighted. 

But the only work such apparel brought him was a 
commission (to which he consented to put his hand in the 
autumn of 1921) so insignificant that an ordinary architect, if 
he had a jot of anything else on his drawing-board, would 
have refused it forthwith. No less a master than Sullivan was 
asked to design the front, just a wall, of a structure that could 
not even be called a building. It was a tiny music shop, whose 
German proprietor desired to live "over the business," and 
in consequence the plan called for a shop door at one side 
and a "family" door at the other, with a display window in 
between. 

The dejected Sullivan went to work upon it. What else 
could he do? And how, after all, could he refuse a man, 
however humble, who made his living from music? Round a 
show-window for flutes and guitars the architect wrought an 
ingenious frame, set well back; and above, he placed green 
panels in terra cotta, to lead the eye to one of his ornaments 
of basketry gracing the cornice. 

This "temple of music," in a mean street of petty com- 
merce, was the last bit of architecture built from the pencil of 
Louis Sullivan. (He had designed 126 known buildings; and, 
in addition, perhaps a dozen more, unrecorded, for Johnston & 
Edelmann; five-sixths of the known ones were the work of 
Adler & Sullivan as partners). The irony was that Sullivan 
had strangely completed a circle. As his fame had begun from 
that great hall of music, the Auditorium, so had he ended on 
a note of melody, with this little music shop, however faint 
its sound. Music, after all, was next to architecture the art he 
grasped firmest, more firmly than writing, for in music he 

z8i 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

possessed a competence by birth. A musician himself, he had 
translated harmony into his work, but not into his life. 

Though he built no more, Sullivan did not go unregarded 
by the architects who were younger, and who were also 
members of the Cliff Dwellers. Perhaps they, at least, had 
found something of value in the "Kindergarten Chats," and 
certainly the Transportation Building had clung to their 
memory like an unchanging sunset. The most successful of 
these younger colleagues was Max Dunning, called by some 
of his contemporaries "little Max," who ever since returning 
in 1900 from his studies in Paris, where he had heard Sullivan 
so justly honored, had lost nothing of his admiration for the 
achievement of the great man. In the dub they had for years 
exchanged greetings; in 1912, soon after Sullivan's election, 
Dunning had written to him of the high regard in which the 
master was ever held in Europe. The younger architect was 
now nearly fifty. He was in practice alone, in the Kimball 
Building, Wabash Avenue; he had served on both State and 
National boards of housing, and he was a director of the 
American Institute of Architects. 

Dunning conferred with another Cliff Dweller, George 
Nimmons, a man a little older, who was also a single architect, 
with offices in Michigan Avenue. Nimmons had studied at 
the Chicago Art Institute, had begun as a draftsman for Daniel 
Burnham (who had died, not in want, in 1912), and in the 
year just past had won from the American Institute of 
Architects its gold medal for industrial buildings. 

These two clubmen, noticing with concern that Sullivan 
found his decline harder to bear from lack of occupation, and 
mindful that he had never published a book, by which he 
could be remembered apart from his buildings, formed a 
double plan. If the master would accept it, he should "per- 
petuate his name and philosophy." At the turn of the year 
192 1-22 they broached their scheme to Sullivan. The first part 

282 



SULLIVAN AND SAARINEN 

was that he should by day design a set of twenty plates in 
folio to illustrate his "philosophy of ornament." This he could 
do at his office. The second part, to be undertaken during the 
evenings at the Cliff Dwellers, was that he should write the 
narrative of his life. For both assignments he was to be paid, 
while Dunning and Nimmons assumed responsibility not 
only for raising the funds, but for ensuring publication. 

Sullivan, delighted, gave his friends carte blanche to make 
whatever arrangements they considered reasonable, and him- 
self started at once, in the new year of 1922, to map out both 
of the works. 

Since Nimmons was an old pupil of the Chicago Art 
Institute he was able to obtain from its Burnham Library an 
advance of $500, payable to Sullivan toward designing the 
plates. Then Nimmons and Dunning together canvassed other 
architects among the Cliff Dwellers, from whom they col- 
lected $500 more. As the work should progress, this second 
sum was to be handed to Sullivan in monthly payments. 

With regard to the other proposal, the story of Sullivan's 
life, it was fortunate for him that both Dunning and Nimmons 
stood at the moment in a position of influence with the 
American Institute of Architects. They were able to arrange 
with its magazine, the Journal, to pay Sullivan $100 a month 
for monthly installments of his autobiography, to run at least 
a year. The editor of the Journal, C. A. Whitaker, wrote in 
January to Sullivan whose spirits he raised considerably by 
intimating that the book might well follow from the series. 

To Sullivan's mind, his career as a whole had always been 
the tenacious working out of an "idea." He therefore chose 
to call his life The Autobiography of an Idea, a title as original 
and striking as his "Kindergarten Chats." But the editor, 
aware of the author's prolixity, his prejudices, his tendency to 
digress, cautioned him to "plot out the material by periods." 
Sullivan acquiesced. "I want the story," he replied to Whitaker 

283 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart Two 

in February, "to be that of a human being not of a poseur. 
. . . Dismiss any apprehension of a bulky book . . . the infant 
child will be the prelude." He was always fond of musical 
terms; he liked to think of himself as writing to the sound 
of music. And just as he was akeady working at his plates by 
daylight, he settled down with zest at an ample table in the 
Cliff Dwellers every evening after dinner (he had no meals to 
pay for; he signed the bills, and his friends in the profession 
defrayed this expense) to write the history that none but him 
knew. 

Yet there were bills outside the club that harassed him, 
bills accumulated from many a lean year. For some of those 
bills, the money from the plates had in large part to go. Nor 
would payments on the Autobiography begin until the 
Journal started to publish, some months hence. Sullivan found 
that he could no longer meet the rent for his miserable office 
at 1808 Prairie Avenue; indeed he could barely find the nine 
dollars a week for his bed at the old Warner. But if he had 
no office wherein to work at his plates, if he failed to produce 
them, how could he expect the monthly payments for them? 

It was now that industry, like art, came to his aid. So 
many, many years had Sullivan made use, in his lavish 
decorations, of terra cotta in all its forms, that he had created 
for this material a fashion which had gone far to enrich its 
manufacturers. Christian Schneider, of die staff of the Ameri- 
can Terracotta Company, had long been the modeler for 
Sullivan's designs. So fruitfully had this architect and this 
modeler collaborated that the Company, whenever Sullivan 
had modeling to be done in materials other than clay, such 
as iron casting or sawed wood, were in the habit of lending 
Schneider to the Sullivan office. This long association had 
led to firm friendship between Sullivan and the President of 
the Terracotta Company, C. D. Gates. 

Gates was a long, lean, angular Yankee whose deepest 
qualities were kindliness and humor. He was a man whose 

284 



SULLIVAN AND SAARINEN 

absorption in commerce did not dull his sense of justice. To 
enable Sullivan still to say that he had an "office," Gates and 
his colleague Albert Sheffield a dark square-built man who 
was secretary to the firm and as amiable as his superior in- 
vited the champion of terra cotta to move his desk and table 
into a corner of a large room in the quarters of the Company, 
in the next block, at 1701 Prairie Avenue. The space was 
free of charge. Thither Louis Sullivan, with great relief, 
carried his remaining furniture and his drawing equipment. 

Thus the work on the plates suffered no interruption. This 
book, running to twenty plates with notes on their margins, 
was to include an introduction. Sullivan contemplated a tide 
more characteristic than terse: A System of Architectural 
Ornament According 'with a Philosophy of Marts Power. In 
a letter to Whitaker, the editor in Washington, he defended 
such a crowd of phrases: "The graphic work, to have the 
greater value, must be founded securely on philosophic prel- 
ude outlining man and his powers, and the idea of the prelude 
carried out in the series of plates." He must compose another 
"prelude," and its subsequent movements. Sullivan always 
heard the orchestra of life. 

Decrepit though he was, he retained his wondrous speed 
and certitude in drawing. The sheets were about twelve by 
twenty inches, and the great artist adorned them with much 
of his old lightness and delicacy, his inventiveness, his flexi- 
bility, obedient to that famous recessive "modeler's thumb," 
against the yellowed index finger. Of the first eight plates, 
which might have been called elements or factors of ornament, 
he had by the end of February finished four: development of 
a blank block through a series of mechanical manipulations; 
simple and compound leaf forms; mobile and plastic geometry; 
and "awakening of the pentagon" to foliate and efflorescent 
forms. Sullivan had a lifelong fondness for the word "awaken- 
ing," which he had applied as well to "Kindergarten Chats" 
as to the Auditorium. Now continuing with Plate V, on axes 

285 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED fart Two 

and sub-axes, he called it "Awakening of the Imagination." 
Then he went on, in the next plate, with dominant axis or 
two axes in equilibrium, "the aspect of freedom begins to 
appear." The second four plates, finished by the end of 
April, wound up with values of parallel axis. So much was 
preliminary. The rest of the series, from May onward, were 
each to be a single large piece of ornamentation, with the 
hexagon recurrently figuring. 

And in the evening he slogged off to the Cliff Dwellers, 
usually to dine with a venerable clubmate who was not an 
architect: Wallace Rice. This man must have played the part 
of inexhaustible listener. Otherwise it is not easy to fathom 
how Sullivan could have abided him. As an undergraduate at 
Harvard, Rice had dabbled in literature. In Chicago he had 
been a kind of jack-at-aU-writing, turning out pageants, 
festival plays, a history of the stock exchange, then dwindling 
to The Little Book of Brides, and The Little Book of Kisses. 
Harriet Monroe, in her earnest editing of her magazine Poetry, 
had had to fight off "Mr. Rice," whose notion of belles-lettres 
did not quite match hers. 

But Sullivan always retreated after dinner to his writing 
table, to work away at the series for Whitaker, the Auto- 
biography, with its "material by periods." The first install- 
ment appeared in the Journal for June, and the money for it 
relieved the anxious author to a degree. 

William LeBarthe Steele, who had left Sullivan's staff so 
many years before (in 1900) to practice in the East, had now 
come back to Sioux City, Iowa; and being a Cliff Dweller, 
he was during a visit to Chicago distressed at the infirmity 
though gladdened by the diligence of his old employer: "It 
was a shadow of the powerfully-built broad-chested athlete 
of former days [when Sullivan was boxing every other day 
with George Dawson] but a quietly triumphant old man, who 
nighdy sat at a table in the Cliff Dwellers writing what was 
to be his literary masterpiece." Steele could scarcely think of 

286 



SULLIVAN AND SAARINEN 

this shadow "in any but tragic terms . . . ignored when he was 
not ridiculed." 

One who did not ignore him was Frank Lloyd Wright. 
Returning from Japan, he had stayed long in Los Angeles, 
where he had built a number of masterly houses. (One of 
them, on a steep hill, suggested a Mayan temple; its retaining 
walls to hold the embankments were an original feat of 
engineering.) Now back in Chicago, Wright called upon 
Sullivan at the Warner. The sole possession remaining to the 
master, at least the one thing which Wright noticed, was an 
old daguerreotype of Andrienne Sullivan and her sons, Louis 
at seven and Albert at nine. Wright found Sullivan being 
looked after by "a little milliner," who did not live at the 
hotel, but with whom he was in the habit of exchanging visits. 
She appeared to be a "devoted comrade." As shop assistants 
sometimes believe, she had thought by means of henna to 
make her auburn sell more hats. 

It is difficult not to identify this lady with "the red-haired 
one" who visited Ocean Springs. The hair it was that struck 
everybody. Wright gathered that she had been intimate with 
Sullivan for years. She "understood him, and could do almost 
anything with him." (Nor would Wright ever say more, 
although the lady died many years before he did. He was in 
the habit of referring to her simply by her most distinctive 
mark, "the little henna-haired milliner.") 

This friendship was as stanch as Sullivan's intimacy at the 
Cliff Dwellers with Wallace Rice. But it bore the added bond 
of deep affection. The milliner, in her humble way, was 
artistic, and she warmed the embers of artistry in the master. 
They were two lonely beings. Sullivan kept a diary, and 
whenever he went to see his friend, or whenever she came to 
see him, he made note in this diary of their greetings, using 
her initials. Much as she was a comfort to him in his thread- 
bare days, he in turn distinguished her by his fondness. If she 
was no Margaret, she was yet a companion. 

287 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

Actually the rooms to which Wright now paid a visit 
were a bedchamber and a bathroom, both of them bare 
enough. The only pictures on the wall of the larger room 
were unframed prints, cut out of magazines. Of Sullivan's 
library, the collection so rich in his Lake Park years, there 
was nothing left except a few reference books and a few 
textbooks; these he kept on shelves fitted in his bathroom. 
But he still clung to a single thing of beauty, precious no 
doubt because of what, or of whom, he associated with it: a 
little piece of jade, exquisitely carved. 

Sullivan took Wright down to the Terracotta building 
to show him the drawings for the System of Architectural 
Ornament. Wright observed that his master's hand shook; 
but when it took up a pencil, this hand grew as firm, as 
strong and steady, as it had been in his prime. If the plates, 
which Sullivan was producing at the rate of one a month, 
poetry in art for all their intricacy, promised posterity only 
a reminiscence of the marvelous drawings made for such a 
commission as McVicker's Theatre, the hand, in its sureness 
of touch whilst elaborating a motive of hexagons, was yet 
as obedient as the hand of Franz Hals painting a lace ruff. 
Although Wright was a man with little use for sentiment, 
he could not restrain himself from saying that this ultimate 
architecture of Sullivan "proved his capacity for ardent, true, 
poetic love." 

Thinking that the master might benefit from a change, 
Wright carried him off to Wisconsin, to the second "Taliesin" 
he had built (before he journeyed to Japan) on the site of 
the one burned down. Sullivan, as of old in the Auditorium 
Tower when he had made Wright listen after office hours to 
written speeches, read to his pupil a few chapters of the 
forthcoming Autobiography. But the holiday hardly helped. 
Sullivan caught such a heavy cold that he had to return with 
it to Chicago. 

288 



SULLIVAN AND SAARINEN 

Thither, in late autumn, came the convention of the 
American Institute of Architects. Allison Owen travelled up 
for it from New Orleans, where at the Creole party he had 
so merrily entertained Louis and Margaret Sullivan in a 
happier day. At the dinner of the Chicago convention, which 
concluded the sessions, Owen happened to be seated just 
opposite Sullivan. The sight of such towering talent sunken 
by the ills of life deeply saddened him. The dandy of the 
profession was a spent figure, solemn, wasted, and crumpled. 

And still Louis Sullivan never seemed to have to endure 
a day that was shorn of interest for him. Having seen chapter 
after chapter of his life printed in the Journal since June, with 
present promise of continuance for fifteen installments, and 
having got well forward with his plates for the System, he 
was now able to turn his critical eye upon an architectural 
competition: the choosing of a design for a new skyscraper to 
house the Chicago Tribune. If Sullivan himself was long past 
competing in such a race, he intended nevertheless to appraise 
the winning plan. 

When the prize was awarded (to a son-in-law, it was 
said, of the controlling owner of the paper) Sullivan was 
furious. The design seemed to be a concession to medieval- 
cum- Victorian Gothic, of which perhaps the most revolting 
feature was the very top of the building: it looked like a 
crowned king of spiders. What must have aroused Sullivan 
all the more against the winner, but in favor of the runner-up 
(who did receive a sum of money in consolation), was that 
this designer of the second choice had, even without previous 
"skyscraper experience," drawn a set-back very much in the 
manner of Sullivan's own Fraternity Temple of 1891. 

Sullivan's approval apparently arose, at least in part, from 
his recollection, whether conscious or subconscious, of his 
own original work. But from the standpoint of the architect 
concerned, the resemblance was not too surprising. The man 

289 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

was Eliel Saarinen, designer of tie monumental railway 
station of Helsingfors, and for thirty years an ardent stu- 
dent of Sullivan's buildings. Since his acquaintance with them 
is known to have dated from the Golden Doorway of 
1893, it is not inconceivable that the young admirer of that 
day had reached back two years earlier and scrutinized the 
plan for the Fraternity Temple. 

Sullivan, having invented that form of skyscraper, the 
set-back, had always thought that its design must one day 
come into its own. He was delighted that Saarinen realized it, 
had indeed improved upon the soaring Temple, inasmuch as 
above the seventeenth floor Saarinen proposed four set-backs, 
of four, six, four, four stories, whereas Sullivan had drawn 
only three set-backs which began at the tenth floor. As for 
the present decoration involved, an original design in semi- 
circles, Saarinen confined it to the uppermost section of the 
building, which was masterly in its expressiveness. 

In contrast with this fresh and prophetic plan, the winner 
of the first prize, alack, had drawn a tower with a spider on 
it. Even if the architect had unwittingly symbolized the 
nature of the newspaper, Sullivan would have none of it. In 
the Architectural Record (February 1923) he blazed forth: 

"To cast aside, with the sop of a money-prize, the sur- 
passing work of a 'foreigner' of high distinction, and thor- 
oughly disciplined in executed works, was an act of savagery." 
The winning design "savoured of the nursery where children 
bet imaginary millions," as if "bathos and power were 
synonymous. ... It looks also like the wandering of a mind 
unaccustomed to distinguish architecture and scene-painting. 
This design ... is so helpless, so defenseless, when brought 
face to face with mastery of ideas and validity of grounds 
that it is cruel to go on. ... Such seriousness prevented him 
[the architect] from seeing the humor of it, from seeing 
something funny and confiding. 

290 



SULLIVAN AND SAARINEN 

"If the monster on top, with its great long legs reaching 
far below to the ground, could be gently pried loose, the real 
building would reveal itself as a rather amiable and delicate 
affair with a certain grace of fancy, and even so, it could 
be but a foundling at the doorstep of the Finn for it seems 
they breed strong men in Finland. The Finnish master-edifice 
is not a lonely cry in the wilderness; it is a voice, resonant and 
rich, singing amidst the wealth and joy of life. In utterance 
sublime and melodious, it prophesies a time to come, and not 
so far away, when the wretched and the yearning, the sordid 
and the fierce, shall escape the bondage of fixed ideas." 

This was all true. It required an architect from Europe, 
a man from far-away Finland, to rediscover Louis Sullivan 
for his own people. The "Sullivan set-back" in skyscrapers, 
halted in America for an entire generation by the cabal of 
the Classicists, resumed its march from this time, advanced 
upon New York, and captured the country. The article in 
the Record did not sound like the writing of an invalid, nor 
of a man long acquainted with the frowns of fortune. But 
Sullivan when angered could write at his best, as often he 
wrote at his worst when carried away by lyricism. Once for 
all he proved that he was no chauvinist; he welcomed an 
artist from overseas, a man who had shown American archi- 
tects how to design, for their own land, a great deal more 
effectively than the vast majority of them knew how to do. 

Sullivan had taken plenty of time to stoke his rage over 
the outcome of this competition. For three months he left 
off designing his plates, while he wrote in defense of Saarinen. 
It was on December 15, 1922 that he had finished his seven- 
teenth plate. As if weakened from assailing the Tribune, he 
drew no more until March, and the plate he then designed 
turned out, as he himself acknowledged, sadly inferior to 
the others. 



291 



23 



CHAPTER 




ANK LLOYD WRIGHT ENDORSED 




HE HAD PRAISED A FOREIGNER COME TO 

America, so was Sullivan ready to commend a 
compatriot who had worked overseas. For the 
April (1923) issue of the Architectural Record, 
only two months after he had saluted Saarinen, 
Sullivan wrote upon the subject of the hotel in 
Tokyo designed by his old pupil, Frank Lloyd 
Wright. Enemies, if not rivals, of Wright might 
say that his solicitude for his defeated master, after 
twenty years of silence between them, was being 
rewarded; but in truth the Imperial Hotel was 
arousing such wonder that its builder need not have 
"touted" for recognition. 

Would Sullivan weaken his criticism by an 
excess of superlatives? If he did, it was to be granted 
that by virtue of his long correspondence with 
Wright in Tokyo he knew the building, and could 
speak of it with penetration. 

292 



FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT ENDORSED 

In his article Sullivan observed that the Imperial covered 
two and a half times the area of his own Auditorium; its 
engineering was as sound as its artistry; its design reflected 
"earnest contemplation"; while it did not bear a form distinctly 
Japanese, it yet expressed "the inmost thought of the Japanese 
people"; above all, when touched by an earthquake a year 
before, though it had swayed and rocked, it had settled down 
unharmed. The outspread hotel, with its low-pitched roofs, 
its far horizontals, its rambling wings tucked into a sloping 
landscape, was fashioned in what Sullivan called a "reinf orced- 
cantilever-slab system," threaded with steel fibers for elasticity 
and resilience. Its masonry was knitted, to yield, to "give," 
yet to be secure against fracture or bending, what with the 
spongy soil underneath, itself lying upon a mud bottom. 

"This great work," the critic concluded, "is the master- 
piece of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose fame as a master of 
ideas is an accomplished world-wide fact. . . . The architect 
who combines in his being the powers of vision, of imagina- 
tion, of intellect, of sympathy with human needs and the 
power to interpret them in a language vernacular and true, 
is he who shall create poems in stone consonant with the 
finer clearing thought of our day. . . . The Imperial Hotel 
is the high-water mark thus far attained by any modern 
architect." 

If there were those who thought that this estimate, from 
a man like Louis Sullivan, was too strong, the estimate never- 
theless stood, like the hotel itself. The word of Sullivan, even 
when he was on his last legs, was not easily gainsaid. 

In early summer, June nth, he finished the drawings for 
his System, together with the notes on the margin. He much 
enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing the lot sent off to the 
engraver. One of the designs, but only one, was faulty; it 
was the one he had drawn in March, when his hand had 
shaken. He was now unable to redraw it. This he placed at the 

293 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

end of the set, as if in acknowledgment that it was not of 
the order of the others. 

His Autobiography, of which the last installment appeared 
in August, turned out to be a semi-biography, for it broke 
off with the World's Fair. Up to that point it presented a 
certain record without which Sullivan, as a man and a 
character, though not as an architect, would have been almost 
lost to history, even as Shakespeare. The author mentioned 
neither his brother, his sister-in-law, nor his wife. He said 
not a word of any women friends except the girl with whom 
he had once rambled in childhood, Minnie Whitdesey. Those 
whom he knew in maturity, like Charlotte Wainwright and 
the wife of the professor at Chicago University, he omitted 
altogether. Nor did he yield any information even about men, 
other than the architects he knew in his youth and his prime. 
He had associated in Chicago with a number of convivial 
characters outside his profession; of them he related nothing. 
In this sense his story was not a very "personal" life, not a 
rounded chronicle even to mid-career. 

While there were many reasons why Sullivan shrank from 
continuing his biography on the downward side of its summit, 
the only excusable one was his failing health. A retrospect of 
the installments testified to this decline. The tale confirmed the 
doubts of the editor Whitaker. About a fifth of it, which 
might far better have been devoted to later phases of the 
author's experience, wandered off into bypaths of philosophiz- 
ing or sentimentalism. Sullivan had overfed himself with Walt 
Whitman. Again, neglecting to heed Whitaker's warning to 
"lay out the material by periods," he had written two-thirds 
of the whole before he reached even the time of his departure 
from Paris aged eighteen. Only the remaining third dealt 
with his life in Chicago. But one thing he did not forget, at 
the end, was his perennial excoriation of the architecture of 
his compatriots: "Tudor for banks; French, English, and 

294 



FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT ENDORSED 

Italian Gothic for churches; and Italian or Louis XV for 
houses. 'We make a small charge for alterations.' " Only the 
banks had now varied a little from his old attack they were 
Tudor, instead of Roman. The example set by Sullivan in 
his own banks had not yet taken hold. 

Long afterward, a British architect, John Summerson, 
who was also curator of Soane's Museum, had this to say 
of the Autobiography: "It is the work of a great artist, but 
also of a colossal sentimentalist, with a facility in writing a 
land of rhetorical prose, which to the modern reader is 
singularly unpalatable. . . . Still, the Autobiography is a 
fascinating document in its way, gushing with the innocent 
self-love of the self-made America of the turn of the century, 
the rugged, generous, loose-limbed, eternally philosophizing 
America invented by Whitman and Emerson." 

While this critic laid an accurate finger upon the weaknesses 
in Sullivan's writing, he did not make it clear why he held 
Sullivan to be a "great artist." Had England so regarded him 
in architecture? France and Denmark, Holland and Germany 
and Sweden, Finland as well, had long followed Sullivan in 
line and decoration. In Britain, the early recognition of 
Sullivan in the Builder? Weekly Reporter had hardly been 
sustained. During the years of Sullivan's advance on the 
Continent, the Royal Institute of British Architects had 
bestowed its gold medals upon die imitative American 
architecture of Richard Hunt and Charles McKim, of the 
anti-Sullivan forces. 

The Autobiography, glowing with the fire of youth re- 
captured, was a record of precocity. A special merit lay in 
its characterizing; its figures leaped into life parents, kinsmen, 
teachers, fellow-architects. Begun late in life, ended with 
middle life, it thrashed out thoroughly what it did say. 
Ill-proportioned, lopsided, truncated, it still won Sullivan 
mention in the company of Cellini and Trelawny. 

*95 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

Perhaps in view of criticism which had reached him from 
the installments, he set about revising passages during the 
autumn, looking forward to publication (of the book) in 
the spring. All the time he was wretchedly poor, in pocket 
as in health. Claude Bragdon, in another of his periodic visits 
to Chicago, found Sullivan "living on the bounty of friends." 
Not only were Nimmons and "little Max" collecting more 
funds, but Albert Sheffield and his staff in the Terracotta 
Company were renewing contributions. Bragdon took Sulli- 
van to the theater, to see Walter Hampden as Hamlet. 
Hampden, now in his Shakespearean prime, was by his 
piercing utterance and his acting of one line alone ("Angels 
and ministers of grace defend us!") enthralling America like 
no other actor since Booth. Bragdon made note that his 
guest was "delighted" with the performance. 

From time to time Wright came down from Taliesin, and 
looked in upon his master and the "little milliner." He 
gathered from Dr. Curtis, Sullivan's physician and long a 
personal friend, that the patient's heart was "bulging between 
his ribs." Yet Sullivan kept drinking cup after cup of strong 
black coffee, like a drug. He "pounded on the table" at the 
Warner if his coffee was delayed. His eyes, now sunken, were 
still bright, but whether from unnatural brightness, or from 
the alertness of a mind that always shunned repose, one could 
not be certain. When they went on a walk, Sullivan took 
his old pupil's arm; his breathing grew shorter. At crossings, 
Wright noticed, the weakened man had to stop for breath in 
order to step up from the street to the pavement. Sullivan 
was dying inchmeal. 

And then occurred an event affecting both Wright and 
Sullivan that was at once a calamity and a triumph. In 
September 1923 earthquake and fire laid Tokyo in ruins. 
Waiting for the fateful news, Wright and his master at 
length heard that the Imperial Hotel had gloriously withstood 
the holocaust. Sullivan, as excited as if he had designed the 

296 



FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT ENDORSED 

building himself, undertook to write another article for the 
Record, to reinforce his earlier one. Although chronic neuritis 
was slowly paralyzing his right arm and hand, even thickening 
his speech a little, he could lift this arm onto a desk. And so, 
in midwinter, after he had studied all the essential reports, 
Louis Sullivan sat up to his last piece of writing, "Reflections 
on the Tokyo Disaster." 

He delved a bit into the history of modern architecture 
in Japan. His findings he called "the dainty quintessence of 
asininity." Then he presented the case: 

"Prior to the American invasion, there was an English 
invasion; and prior to the English, a German invasion. Both 
[earlier] invasions carried with them the sophisticated cre- 
dulity of European culture. Both . . . erected solid masonry 
buildings upon earthquake land. When the time came, these 
structures groaned, and buried their dead . . . [their architects] 
drove piles through sixty feet of mud to reach rock, and 
built skyscrapers on them. 

"This architect [Wright] whom I have known since his 
eighteenth year, and the working of whose fine mind I believe 
I fairly follow, is possessed of a rare sense of humour, and an 
equally rare sense of Mother Earth, coupled with an apprehen- 
sion of the material so delicate as to border on the mystic, and 
yet remain coordinate with those facts we call real life. Such 
a mind, sufficiently enriched by inner experience as to become 
mellow in power, and reinforced by a strong tenacious will, is 
precisely the primary type of mind that resolves a problem 
into its simplest, and projects in thought a masterful solution. 
. . . This most significant architectural monument that the 
modern world can show stands today uninjured, because it 
was thought-built." 

The article was written for the issue of February 1924. 
Sullivan was naturally pleased that his own stalwart assertions 
a year earlier had been borne out. 



297 



24 



CHAPTER 



T 



HEIR BACKS TO THE SUNRISE 



THE TIME HE WAS PREPARING THIS LAST 

article for the Record in praise of Frank Lloyd 
Wright, Sullivan, having delivered his plates, was 
adding the final touch to his System by writing its 
"Prelude," four folio pages, to be set in large type, 
in which he discussed "the inorganic and the 
organic," a technical guide for young architects. 
This introduction he dated January 27, 1924. 

On the page preceding the four, however, he 
drew a curious figure, a tiny narrowed oval with 
enormous wings upspread. The legend ran: "Above 
is a diagram of a typical seed with two cotyledons. 
The cotyledons are specialized rudimentary leaves 
containing a supply of nourishment sufficient for 
the initial stage of the development of the germ. 
The germ is the real thing: the seat of identity. 
Within its delicate mechanism lies the will to power, 



THEIR BACKS TO THE SUNRISE 

the function which is to seek and eventually to find its full 
expression in form. The seat of power and the will to live 
constitute the simple working idea upon which all that follows 
is based as to efflorescence." 

He divided the powers into physical, intellectual, emo- 
tional, moral, and spiritual. Under intellectual, he first put 
curiosity, which craved orderly form. Under moral, the 
stabilizing power, he called choice the most potent. Under 
spiritual, which gave clarity to vision, he grouped seeing as in 
a dream, and feeling as by instinct. 

It was not surprising, therefore, that in his marginal notes 
accompanying the plates Sullivan had recommended to young 
architects only two treatises, his own loved favorites: Gray's 
School and Field Book of Botany, and Beecher Wilson's The 
Cell in Development and Inheritance. The whole scheme, in 
substance, really harked back forty years, to the day of 
Sullivan's instruction at the side of John Edelmann in the 
Lotus Place boathouse. 

The completed monograph of the plates, like the Auto- 
biography (for which Claude Bragdon had just written a 
preface), was now ready for the printer in Washington to 
get on with. And Louis Sullivan laid pen and pencil aside 
for all time. 

He hoped that friends would look in upon him. As through 
February he worsened, growing almost every day weaker, 
Frank Lloyd Wright came again. Sullivan complained less 
about himself than about the state of the country. As if still 
in anger at the rejection by the Tribune of Saarinen's sky- 
scraper, he cried out, "Our people have stopped thinking! It 
would be harder now to do radical work, and more difficult 
to get radical work accepted, than it ever was." 

In Sullivan's opinion, designers, clients, indeed the whole 
people, were from the standpoint of architecture utterly 
benighted. While he himself thought he could discern the 

299 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

future, the public in general seemed devoid of the least idea 
of what was coming. On such a spectacle, as he saw it, 
Sullivan could turn a tart epigram: "They have their backs 
to the sunrise.'* 

He talked to Wright of the Autobiography, the souvenir 
for posterity, on which the author's royalty was to be 
twenty-five cents a copy, the edition to be 2,000 with 1,000 
bound (of the System, there were to be 1,000 copies printed 
and bound, the royalty being a dollar a copy), and he 
expected at last to earn a little something, and thus be no 
longer completely a charge upon his friends. 

After about the beginning of March the younger archi- 
tects in the Cliff Dwellers missed Sullivan. The distance from 
Cottage Grove Avenue to Michigan Avenue was too fatiguing 
for him, even by cab. He was combative and crusading as 
long as he could stand up, or even sit up; but when later in 
the month his "little milliner," herself worn down from 
anxiety, fell so acutely ill that she had to be sent to hospital, 
Sullivan collapsed. What with his swollen heart and his 
half-paralyzed arm he had to take to his bed. Before this 
woeful day he should of course have entered a hospital 
himself; but he hated hospitals, and he refused to quit the 
Warner, however tawdry. In some agitation he telephoned 
to Max Dunning to come to him. 

"Little Max" needed only one look at Sullivan to become 
aware that the enfeebled man could no longer take care of 
himself without some attendance. Having got the name of 
the physician who in fact had been visiting Sullivan since 
the first of the year Dunning called upon him at his office 
to discuss the question of a nurse. Dr. Curtis described his 
patient's malady as "extreme dilation of the heart." It could 
never mend, yet its course was uncertain; Sullivan might 
either "go" quickly, or linger, even for several years. The 

300 



THEIR BACKS TO THE SUNRISE 

doctor believed that for the moment a visiting nurse, twice 
a day for an hour, could furnish the attendance requisite. 

Dunning in this crisis proved as diligent as he had been 
when in the Cliff Dwellers he drummed up subscriptions 
for Sullivan's projected books. First he returned to the 
Warner and told the sufferer that a nurse would report to 
him that night March 25. The question of expense was not 
to disturb him; Dunning averred that friends were "anxious 
to help." It was really this assurance, rather than the prospect 
of a nurse, that somewhat calmed the patient down. "Little 
Max," to fulfill his word, then went out and readily collected 
$300. 

Unhappily the "visiting nurse" proved to be no alleviator. 
As she was not a professional, she lacked the manner that a 
man desperately afflicted demands. In the searching eyes of 
Sullivan she was little short of an intruder. He disliked her. 
During two or three more of her visits he even gave way to 
"violent spells," as if he believed that the wretched woman 
had come on purpose to exterminate him. His friend Geib, 
the harried manager of the Warner, did his little best to pacify 
the patient. But on the third day the nurse, in a dither of 
fury and alarm, ran out of the hotel. 

Dunning saw that in seeking to avoid expense he (and 
Dr. Curtis) had only shouldered trouble, resulting in a con- 
flict from which Sullivan had grown even weaker. Doctor 
and friend now agreed that a fully qualified nurse was 
essential, one who would remain continuously with the patient 
from nine in the morning until ten at night. On March 28 
a Miss Harper took charge. She knew her business. Sullivan 
accepted her, just as in his golden day he had welcomed 
competent men to his staff, in succession to the dunderheads 
whom he had summarily dismissed. 

Very early in April the patient sensed that he was soon 

301 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Fart Two 

to die. Dunning was sitting with him, and he asked "Little 
Max" to take a memorandum. Other than funds that friends 
had deposited for him in the Corn Exchange Bank he had no 
money. Nor had he a safe-deposit box. His only assets were 
his few meager possessions in his room, and in the Terracotta 
Building his drawing instruments together with a pile of old 
sketches and plans. Albert Sheffield was to be notified. Sullivan 
then gave the number of his lot in Graceland Cemetery, 
alongside the graves, he said, of his parents. 

From April 5th, Dr. Curtis ordered that Miss Harper 
stay in the Warner night and day, whereupon Dunning 
obtained a room for her next to the patient's. Dunning did 
more. He telegraphed to the press of the American Institute 
to beg that they "rush" to Chicago, if "humanly possible," a 
single copy of the Autobiography, and one of the System, in 
order that the dying author, at last, see between covers 
something that he had written. 

Fortunately the press was able to comply, and Dunning 
bore the books in triumph to the sick-room. Sullivan was 
overjoyed. He said that "typographically and in general 
presentation" he thought his volumes were "the most beautiful 
books he had ever seen." So pleased was he, as well, with 
Claude Bragdon's preface to the Autobiography that he asked 
Dunning to write to Bragdon and thank him to the utmost. 

In substance, Bragdon said that the generation which 
produced the skyscraper could not fit it into canons, cate- 
gories, or traditions. In many cases, they built monstrosities. 
Sullivan therefore designed piers and windows not from 
tradition, but according to necessity, a steel skeleton covered 
with flesh, then ornament overall. Yet he held his own 
decorative gift as the least factor. His writings, Bragdon 
continued, had imprinted themselves on the mind of youth, 
"wax to receive and marble to retain." His "Kindergarten 
Chats," hidden under drawing-boards "until the boss left," 

302 



THEIR BACKS TO THE SUNRISE 

destroyed for youth the notions they got from architectural 
schools, and replaced them with ideas that pointed to the 
future. The Chats were large, loose, discursive, a blend of the 
sublime and the ridiculous, as if Ariel had collaborated with 
Caliban; but these Chats were also provocative, amazing, 
amusing, astounding, and inspiring. 

So it was that Bragdon persevered as Sullivan's advocate 
for the publication of Kindergarten Chats, for whose revision, 
by the author, he had been responsible six years before. No 
book, it was true, had then resulted. But now, at the eleventh 
hour, Bragdon renewed Sullivan's hopes, and the act was not 
merely that of a friend, but of a disciple. 

For the moment Sullivan forgot all about his really monu- 
mental achievements in Chicago and St. Louis, in Buffalo and 
New York. It was his two books, embodying his life and his 
philosophy, that he fondled as his "consummation." 

On the same dayit was April 1 1 Frank Lloyd Wright 
revisited the Warner. Sullivan felt so energized from his 
literary "credentials," as Wright has recorded, that he wanted 
to get up from bed; and his caller helped him sit on its edge, 
wrapped his overcoat about him, and a warm muffler, and 
covered up his feet on the floor. Wright, as he touched the 
wasted man's spine, could feel each vertebra, and at the same 
time grew aware of the pounding of his heart. The Auto- 
biography was lying on a table. "Give me the book," said 
Sullivan, beaming. He asked for a pencil, to inscribe it. But 
he could not raise his writing arm. And he jested about his 
approaching end, which he admitted was almost upon him. 

Then Sullivan presented his old pupil, now risen to be his 
fellow master, with a sheaf of drawings* The first was that 
exercise in fresco border, the one done when Sullivan was 
at the Beaux Arts, and already touched with the mark of 
genius. The boy had dated it November 29, 1874, just at 
the time of his Thanksgiving "bust," of which he had written 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Part Two 

to his brother. There followed a number of early sketches 
for Adler, drawn before Wright had appeared on the scene: 
terra cotta, painted wood and gilded plaster these for the 
first McVicker's Theatre in i884-5-then plastic studies in 
leaf and scroll, also in 1885. Most of the rest were masterpieces 
executed in Wright's own day at the office, souvenirs of the 
topmost era of Sullivan. They included a corbel for the 
Auditorium, a carved wood capital for the Auditorium 
banqueting-hall, plaster bands for the gorgeous proscenium of 
the rebuilt McVicker's, carvings for the granite arch of the 
Getty Tomb, and the plaster soffits of the Transportation 
Building. Finally Sullivan offered a sketch drawn at about 
the time Wright left the firm; it was a terra cotta pier of the 
Guaranty Building of Buffalo. Not only was this gift in 
large part a diary of the association of Sullivan and Wright; it 
was a history of American architecture for the years it 
embraced. 

Wright helped to put his master back to bed; and Sullivan 
fell asleep, calmly. The visitor, on leaving the room, asked 
Miss Harper to summon him from Taliesin if the patient 
should take a turn for the worse. 

On Sunday, April 13, Max Dunning went to see Sullivan 
once more, in company with Larry Woodsworth, a friend 
of them both. They had a long talk, Sullivan said he wished 
any royalties from his books to go to the educational fund of 
the American Institute of Architects. There were two reasons: 
the Institute had made it possible for him to do this work, 
which he considered his "greatest achievement"; and secondly, 
the Institute, from such an addition to its fund, would 
"perpetuate his name as it should be perpetuated, in the 
highest circles of the architectural profession." In so assigning 
these royalties, Sullivan said, he was but following the example 
of Henry Adams, who had given to the educational fund of 
the Institute all rights in his Mont St. Michel and Chartres. 

304 



THEIR BACKS TO THE SUNRISE 

Apparently it was in order for Sullivan to write out a 
note concerning this disposal of his royalties. This note he 
seems not to have completed. In the night, after his visitors 
had gone, the fear overcame him that he was in his last hours, 
and he told Miss Harper there was a paper that he should 
sign. She tried to find out from him where he had put it. He 
could not coherently say; and within a few minutes he passed 
into a coma. 

The nurse summoned Dunning early on the Monday 
morning. When "little Max" reached the room, Sullivan was 
still unconscious. Very soon the watchers noticed that he no 
longer breathed. 

On the afternoon of the next day, April 15, the younger 
architects took him to the chapel of Graceland Cemetery, 
for a short service at three o'clock. Frank Lloyd Wright was 
there. The speaker appointed by those in charge was chosen 
evidently on the ground of Sullivan's odd friendliness toward 
him in die last years: Wallace Rice. 

At the grave, alongside the graves of Patrick and Andri- 
enne Sullivan, the mourners stood in full view of the 
Getty Mausoleum, of which a cast, actual size, was still 
winning in Paris the homage of all Europe. Of this homage, 
the American people as a whole would have been more 
aware, but for the circumstance that "they had their backs 
to the sunrise." 



305 



JTPILOGUE 



jfjLLI 



LBERT SULLIVAN, IN RETIREMENT AT 

Poughkeepsie, was so overcome with sorrow upon 
hearing of his brother's death that it is difficult to 
think of the long estrangement in the family as an 
altogether voluntary matter on the elder brother's 
part. It was as if, rather, Albert had in the past 
proffered help to the impoverished Louis, but had 
by him been either repulsed or ignored. If for 
thirty years Albert Sullivan had remained indiffer- 
ent, he would hardly have sought, now, out of 
mere curiosity, for information of his brother's 
last days. One can only conclude that Albert had 
once felt as concerned over Louis' misfortunes as 
he was now deeply moved by his death. 

Not knowing such friends of his brother as 
Dunning, Nimmons, Gates or Sheffield, Albert Sulli- 
van inquired of a younger man whom, as a child, 

306 



EPILOGUE 

both brothers had befriended: Adler's son Sidney. Young 
Adler now had an office in the Peoples Gas Building in South 
Michigan Avenue, and although he had seen nothing of 
Sullivan in his old age, he was acquainted with the younger 
architects who then did know the master. Within a fortnight 
after Sullivan's funeral, therefore, Adler on behalf of the 
surviving brother requested Max Dunning to write him a few 
words relevant to the last decline of the dead man. 

Dunning replied on April 28 with what he called a 
"memorandum," which he said Adler might use "as he saw 
fit" in writing to Albert Sullivan. All of the architect's 
possessions, such as they were at the Warner, had by order of 
Dunning been packed in a box by the nurse and the manager, 
and sent to Albert Sheffield at the Terracotta building, where 
they were "available for examination." The money left in 
the bank, nearly $200, all contributed by Sullivan's friends, 
was to pay for arrears at the hotel, and to discharge a number 
of small bills. One Mark Cummings held Sullivan's note for 
$150. When he enquired of Dunning about the estate, Dun- 
ning advised him to tear up the note. 

The rest of the letter, some 2500 words, Dunning devoted 
to the part played by himself, George Nimmons, Dr. Curtis, 
Albert Sheffield, and Miss Harper in the last months of 
Sullivan's life, from the launching in 1922 at the Cliff Dwellers 
of the scheme for the Autobiography to the attendance upon 
Sullivan from the time he became bedridden. 

Albert Sullivan, upon resigning from the Missouri Pacific 
at the end of 191 1 and moving with his family from St. Louis 
to New York, served on three different railway committees 
in New York through the following spring. At the end of 
1912 he moved to Poughkeepsie; his daughter was soon to 
enter Vassar College. In 1913 the City of Chicago required a 
report upon the planning of a Union Station, for use by all 
railways which touched the city, and Sullivan was appointed 

307 



Louis SULLIVAN AS HE LIVED Epilogue 

to assist in drafting this report. He worked upon it from 
July until November. The Sullivan brothers probably did 
not meet during this period; Louis Sullivan was in any case 
absent from Chicago much of the time, since he was then 
building banks, stores and churches in Iowa. 

Albert, aged fifty-nine, was afflicted with "low blood- 
pressure," no doubt from excessive athletics as a young man; 
at the end of 1913 he retired for good, and did not again 
leave Poughkeepsie. His wife Mary, whose unfortunate dis- 
position led her to make trouble even with her own sisters, 
died in 1930, aged only sixty-one. Though her husband was 
fifteen years her senior, he survived her eight years, dying 
in 1938 when he was 83. 

It is often said that the Panic of 1893, causing the sever- 
ance of Adler & Sullivan as partners, was the main factor in 
Louis Sullivan's fall. But the thwarting of his leadership in 
American architecture had by that time been already ac- 
complished; and at all events Adler lived only until 1900. The 
three disasters in the life of Louis Sullivan were rather the 
inclusion of the Eastern architects in the Fair, the death of 
John Root, -and the failure of the Fraternity Templars to build 
from Sullivan's design the first "set-back" skyscraper in 
America. All of these blows befell Sullivan in the same year, 
1891, when he was only thirty-five. Young though he was, 
and great, the tide against him in America suffered only 
momentary check thereafter. 

On it surged, even posthumously, for nearly forty years. 
Not so often the architects, but the critics (Mr. Lewis 
Mumford the first of them) then began to exalt Sullivan as 
the founder of American architecture, and within five years, 
about 1935, he became generally so acknowledged. But it 
was not until 1946 that the architects of Massachusetts sought 
out the site in South Bennett Street, Boston, on which had 
stood Louis Sullivan's birthplace. To the wall of a later house 

308 



EPILOGUE 



on the spot they fixed a memorial to him: "Architect and 
Author, whose stalwart and vital achievements mark the 
beginning of an independent architecture, consistent with 
the normal creative spirit of man, and with the free aspirations 
of the people of America." 



309 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



WORKS BY SULLIVAN 

The Autobiography of an Idea. (3rd ed.). Peter Smith, 1949. 

A System of Architectural Ornament According with a Philosophy 
of Man's Powers. American Institute of Architects, Wash- 
ington, 1924. 

Kindergarten Chats (2nd ed.) and Other Writings. Wittenborn, 
Schultz, 1947. The other writings in this convenient book 
embody principal addresses and articles, viz: "Character- 
istics and Tendencies of American Architecture," 1885; 
"What Is the Just Subordination ... of Details to Mass?" 
1887; "Ornament in Architecture," 1892; "Emotional Archi- 
tecture as Compared with Classical," 1894; "The Tall Office 
Building Artistically Considered," 1896; "The Young Man 
in Architecture," 1900; "Education" (read to the Archi- 
tectural League of America), 1902; "What Is Architec- 
ture?" 1906. 

Later Articles (all, as dated, in the Architectural Record): "The 
Chicago Tribune Competition," February 1923; "Concern- 

3" 



ing the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo," April 1923; "Reflections on 
the Tokyo Disaster," February 1924. 



GENERAL 
BOOKS: 

AMORY, CLEVELAND: The Proper B Ottomans. Dutton, 1947. 

BRAGDON, CLAUDE: Architecture and Democracy. (Ch. 4). Knopf, 
1926. 

The Secret Springs. (Autobiography). Andrew Dakers, 
London, 1938. 

CALVERT, A. r.: Moorish Remains in Spain. John Lane, London, 1906. 

EDGELL, G. H.: The American Architecture of Today. Scribner's, 
1928. 

GIEDION, SIEGFRIED: Space, Time and Architecture. (3rd ed.). Har- 
vard University Press, 1954. 

History of the Illinois Central Railroad and Representative Em- 
ployees. Railroad Historical Company, Chicago, 1900. 

HITCHCOCK, HENRY-RUSSELL: The Architecture of H. H. Richard- 
son. Museum of Modern Art, 1936. 

KILHAM, w. H.: Boston After Bui finch. Harvard University Press, 
1946. 

KIMBALL, FISKE: American Architecture. Bobbs-Merrill, 1928. 

LEONARD, STEWART: Architecture in Chicago. Unpublished Manu- 
script in the Library of the University of Chicago, 1934. 

MC CALLUM, IAN: Architecture, U.S.A. Architectural Press, Lon- 
don, 1959. 

MONROE, HARRIET: John Wellborn Root. Houghton Mifflin, 1896. 
A Poet's Life. (ed. Geraldine Udell). MacmiUan, 1938. 

MORRISON, HUGH: Louis Sullivan. (2nd ed.). Peter Smith, 1952. 

MUMFORD, LEWIS: The Brown Decades. (2nd ed.) Dover Publi- 
cations, 1955. 

PEVSNER, NIKOLAUS: Pioneers of Modern Design from William 
Morris to Walter Gropius. (2nd ed.) Museum of Modern 
Art, 1949. 

PRISSE D'AVENNES, A.C.T.E.: DArt Arabe d*apr$s les monuments du 
Kain?... Paris, 1877. 

SCHUYLER, MONTGOMERY: Studies In American Architecture. 
Harper, 1892. 

TALLMADGE, THOMAS E.: The Story of Architecture in America. 
Norton, 1927. 

312 



TARCHI, UGO: UArchitettura e FArte Musulmana. C. Crudo & G, 

Turin, 1922-23. 
Who's Who in America: for 1920-21, also for 1922-23: Louis 

Sullivan. 
WRIGHT, FRANK LLOYD: An Autobiography. Longmans Green, 1932. 

Genius and the Mobocracy. Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1949. 

A Testament. Horizon Press, 1957. 

ARTICLES: 

ANONYMOUS: 

"The Moody Tabernacle." Chicago Sunday Times, May 

21,1876. 

"Sport in Chicago." New York Sportsman, July 13, 1876. 
"Structures Designed by Louis H. Sullivan." Interstate 

Architect and Builder, December 22, 1900. 
"Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright." Architectural 

Record, October 1911. 
"America's Foremost Architect and Some of his Work." 

New York (Sunday) Press, January 7, 1912. 
"Louis Sullivan, the First American Architect" Current 

Literature, June 1912. 
"Louis Henry Sullivan." American Architect, May 7, 1924. 

(obit.) 

"Louis Sullivan." Architectural Record, May 1924. (obit.) 
"The Sullivan Birthplace." Architectural Forum, October 

1946. 

"Sullivan Honored." Architectural Record, November 1946. 
"Sullivan Seen by His Contemporaries in His Centennial 

Year." Architectural Record, September 1956. 
BARKER, A, w.: "Louis H. Sullivan, Thinker and Architect." Archi- 
tectural Annual, 2nd ed., pp. 49-66; but see also pp. 67-8, 
1901. 
BENNETT, c. K.: "A Bank Built for Farmers." The Craftsman, 

November 1908. 
BOXJILHET, ANDRE: "L'Exposition de Chicago." Revue des Arts 

Dtcoratifs, Vol. 14, p. 68, 1893-4. 
BRAGDON, CLAUDE: "Letters from Louis Sullivan." Architecture, 

July 1931. 

CAMPBELL, WILLIAM: "Frank Furness, American Pioneer." Archi- 
tectural Review, November 1951. 

CHAMBERLAIN, BETTY: "Louis Sullivan." Arts and Architecture 
(Los Angeles), December 1956. 

313 



CONNELY, WILLARD: "New Sullivan Letters." Journal of the Amer- 
ican Institute of Architects, Washington, July 1953. 
"New Chapters in the Life of Louis Sullivan." Journal, 

A.I.A., September 1953. 

"The Mystery of Louis Sullivan and His Brother." Part I. 
Journal, A.I.A., November 1953. Part II. Journal, 
A.I.A., December 1953. 

"Later Years of Louis Sullivan." Journal, A.I. A., May 1954. 
"Louis Sullivan in 1917-18." Journal, A.I.A., October 1954. 
"Louis Sullivan and His Younger Staff." Journal, A.I.A., 

December 1954. 

"Last Years of Louis Sullivan." Journal, A.I.A., January 
1955. 

DESMOND, H. w.: "Another View: What Mr. Louis Sullivan Stands 
For." Architectural Record, July 1904. 

ELMSLIE, G. G.: "Sullivan Ornamentation." Journal, A.I.A., October 
1946; July 1952. 

FERRES, BARR: "The High Building and Its Art." Scribner*$, March 
1894. 

FISKER, K.: "Louis Henri Sullivan." Forum (Amsterdam), Novem- 
ber 12, 1948. 

HITCHCOCK, H.-R.: "Sullivan and the Skyscraper." Journal of the 
Royal Institute of British Architects, July 1953. 

HOPE, H. R.: "Louis Sullivan's Architectural Ornament." Architec- 
tural Review, October 1947. 

KENNEDY, R. w.: "Form, Function and Expression: Variations on a 
Theme by Louis Sullivan," Journal, A.I.A., November 1950. 

MANSON, GRANT: "Sullivan and Wright." Architectural Review, 
November 1955. 

MCLEAtf,R.c.: "Louis Henri Sullivan, 1856-1924." Western Archi- 
tect, May 1924. (obit.) 

MILLETT, L. j.: "The National Farmers' Bank of Owatonna, Minn." 
Architectural Record, October 1908. 

MORRISON, HUGH: "Louis Sullivan Today." Journal, A.I.A., Sep- 
tember 1956. 

OWEN, ALLISON: "Remembering Sullivan." Journal, A.I.A., August 
1946. 

PELLEGRINI, L.: "Louis Sullivan and Historical Myth." UArchitet- 
tura (Milan), No. 6, 1956. 

"George Grant Elmslie, an Appreciation." VArchitettura, 
No. 17, 1957, 



PURCELL, WILLIAM GRAY: "Recollections" [of Sullivan], Northwest 

Architect, July 1944. 

"Louis Henry Sullivan, Prophet of Democracy." Journal, 

A.I.A., December 1951. 

REBORI, A.: "An Architecture of Democracy." Architectural Rec- 
ord, May 1916. 

"Louis H. Sullivan, an Obituary." Architectural Record, 

June 1924. 
ROBERTSON, H.: "The Work of Louis Henri Sullivan." Journal, 

R.I.B.A., June 18, 1924. 
ROOT, JOHN w.: "Architects of Chicago." Inland Architect and 

News Record, January 1891. 
SALERNO, j.: "Louis Sullivan, Return to Principle." Liturgical Arts, 

February 1948. 
SCHUYLER, MONTGOMERY: "A Critique of the Works of Adler & 

Sullivan." Architectural Record, December 1895. 

"The 'Skyscraper' up to Date." Architectural Record, Jan- 
uary-March 1899. 

"The People's Savings Bank of Cedar Rapids, Iowa." Archi- 
tectural Record, January 1912. 

SMITH, LYNDON P.: "The Schlesinger & Mayer Building." Architec- 
tural Record, July 1904. 

"The Home of an Artist- Architect." Architectural Record, 

June 1905, 
STUDY, G.: "Fifty Years Afterwards." Journal, A.I.A., September 

1945. 

PAMPHLETS: 

Adler & Sullivan's Auditorium Building: "Plans for its Restoration 
as Roosevelt University." Roosevelt University, Chicago, 
1957. 

KAUFMANN, EDGAR, JR. (editor) : "Louis Sullivan and the Architec- 
ture of Free Enterprise." Catalogue to the Centenary Exhi- 
bition, Chicago, 1956. The Art Institute of Chicago. 

MANUSCRIPT LETTERS FROM SULLIVAN: 

In the Burnham Library, the Art Institute, Chicago: to his brother 
Albert, from Paris, 1874, and from Chicago, 1887: 2 letters; 
to business correspondents, 1903-5: a copy-book of letters. 

In the Avery Library, Columbia University: to Lyndon P. Smith, 
from Chicago, 1898-1903: a scrapbook; 5 letters. 

3'5 



In Richmond, Virginia: to Adolph Budina, architect: 4 letters. 

In Bartlesville, Okla.: to Bruce Goff, architect: 1 letter. 

In Ocean Springs, Miss.: to shopkeepers in the village: several 
letters listing Sullivan's requirements in food and other 
supplies for forthcoming visits to his cottage; in the posses- 
sion of Mr. J. K. Lemon. 

The notebook of Louis Sullivan (8 by 13 inches), with entries 
begun in 1872 at Boston Tech, and ending in Chicago in 
1881, comprising botanical drawings, portrait sketches, out- 
lines of buildings, reading lists, and personal records in 
track athletics, is also in the Avery Library. 



INDEX 



Adams Building, Algona, la., 260 
Adams, Heniy, 304 
Ade, George, 225 
Adler, D. & Co., 97 
Adler, Dankmar, 43, 93-7, 103, 
105-6, 118-9, 121, 125, 144, 149, 
162, 164, 197-8, 200-1, 203, 211, 
216, 228, 232, 262, 304, 308 
Adler, Sara, 145, 156 
Adler, Sidney, 145, 156, 307 
Adler & Sullivan, 98-9, 100, 104, 
106, 112-5, 121, 123, 158, 160, 
162, 164, 200, 281, 308 
Alcazar of Seville, 155 
Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 108 
Atwood, Charles B. (partner of 

Burnham), 201 

Auditorium, Chicago, 106, 110-2, 
116, 118-121, 125, 133, 147, 149, 
164, 201, 205, 219-20, 253, 255, 
281, 285, 293 



Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, 
119-20, 227, 229, 264 

Auditorium Tower, Chicago, 123, 
125, 128-9, 131, 144, 146, 162, 
197, 200, 214, 224, 227, 229, 239, 
240-1, 249, 264, 272, 274, 278, 288 

Audley, Mme., 67 

Babson, Henry, 243, 258, 267 
Babson house, Riverside, HI., 

243-4 

Balatka, Hans, 50 
Barnard (athlete), 51, 92 
Barye, Antoine, 129 
Baumann, Frederick, 71-2 
Bayard Building (now Condict), 

New York, 206-9, 215, 223 
Beman, Solon Spencer, 138, 140-1 
Berlioz, Hector, 97 
Berry, Parker, 250-1, 254, 258, 

266-7, 271-2, 276-8 



317 



Billings, C. A., 51, 89, 92, 96 
Borden Block, Chicago, 96, 99, 123 
Borglum, Gutzon, 255 
Bouilhet, Andre, 159-61, 263 
Bradley house, Madison, 249 
Bragdon, Claude, 142, 159, 232-3, 

236, 265, 275, 296, 302-3 
Bratde Square Church, Boston, 41, 

112 

Budina, Adolph, 270-5, 278 
Buffington, Leroy S., 116, 148 
Burling, Edward, 49, 93-5, 138 
Burnham, Daniel, 103-4, 132, 140- 

1, 197, 200-3, 215, 241, 247, 282 
Burnham & Root, 103, 132, 138 
Byron, Lord, 37 

Carson Pirie Scott store (see 

Schlesinger & Mayer) 
Charnley, James, 124-5 
Chicago Edison Building, 258-9 
Chopin, F., 26, 39 
Clark, Newcomb, 125 
Clopet, M., 56-9 
Cobb, Ives, 138 

Columbia University Library, 222 
Condict Building (see Bayard) 
Cooper, James Fenimore, 34 
Corot, J. B. C, 129 
Court of Honour, Chicago, 140-2, 

153, 222 

Cummings, Mark, 307 
Curtis, Dr., 296, 300, 302, 307 
Curtis, William, 51-2, 62-3, 75, 86, 

89-90, 92, 126, 225 

Darwin, Charles, 90 
Da Vinci, Leonardo, 58 
Dawson, George, 225, 286 
Depping & Russel, 73 
Desmond, H. W., 237 
Dexter Building, Chicago, 115 
Diaz de la Pena, Narcisse, 129 
Downs, Charley, 51-2, 62-3 
Downs brothers, 92 
Draper, J. W., 90 

3 l8 



Dunning, Max, 215, 282-3, 296, 
300-2, 304-7 

Edelmann, John, 49-52, 62-4, 66, 
68, 71-7, 79, 85, 86-8, 90-5, 99, 
128, 138, 153, 221, 241-2, 251, 
299 

Elbert, Frank, 267, 271 

Elmslie, George, 118-20, 153, 163- 
4, 203, 205, 208, 213, 215, 221, 
224, 229-30, 235-6, 244, 249-52, 
258-9, 279 

Elmslie & Purcell, 258-9 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 218, 248, 
295 

Farmers' & Merchants' Union 
Bank, Columbus, Wis., 278 

Field Building, Chicago, 106, 108-9 

Field, Eugene, 121 

Field, Marshall, 106, 112 

Fleury (painter), 206 

Francis I, 58 

Francke, Kuno, 263 

Fraternity Temple, Chicago, 
148-9, 289-90, 308 

Furness, Frank, 42, 47, 50, 60, 90, 
96, 100 

Furness, Horace, 43 

Furness, John, 44 

Gage Building, Chicago, 209, 

211-2 

Gates, C. D., 284-5, 306 
Geib (hotel manager), 301 
Getty tomb, 127-8, 133, 149, 159, 

215, 304-5 
Giedion, S., 108 
Girard, Madame, 87, 92 
Goff, Bruce, 279 
Gray, Asa, 152, 299 
Guaranty Building, Buffalo, 163-4, 

197, 199, 207, 232, 235, 264, 267, 

304 

Hampden, Walter, 296 



Harper, Miss, 301-2, 304-5, 307 
Harrison, Pres. Benjamin, 122 
Harte, Bret, 72-3, 76 
Hatcabough, Margaret (see Sulli- 
van, Margaret) 
Healy, Tom, 59, 62, 119, 121 
Heine, Heinrich, 67 
Hewitt, George, 42-7, 50, 147, 155 
Holabird, William A., 104 
Holabird & Roche, 116, 209, 219, 

270 

Hole, Reynolds, 145, 152, 213, 218 
Home Building Assn. Bank, 

Newark, O., 268 
Howells, William Dean, 108 
Hunt, Richard Morris, 39, 42, 48, 
52, 137-40, 141, 146-7, 159-60, 
202, 206, 216, 295 
Huntington, Collis, 223 
Huxley, T. EL, 91 

Illinois Central Suburban Stations, 

110 
Illinois Central Station, New 

Orleans, 145, 156 
Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, 267, 292-3, 

296-7 

James, Henry, 37 

Jayne Building, Philadelphia, 43-5, 

99, 163, 207 
Jenney, William Le Baron, 49-50, 

52, 71, 79, 104, 117, 138, 262 
Jenney & Mundie, 219 
Jevons, W. S., 73 
Jewelers' Building, Chicago, 99, 

127 

Johnston, Joseph, 71, 76, 79, 92 
Johnston, William, 43 
Johnston & Edelmann, 79, 81, 91-3, 

281 
Jones (architect), 259 

Krause Music Shop facade, 
Chicago, 281 



Lake Park Ave. house (No. 4573), 

Chicago, 127, 151, 155-6, 204, 

206, 233, 251, 288 
Landor, W. S., 75 
Larkin Building, Buffalo, 263 
Letang, Eugene, 40-1, 52, 58, 60 
Lewis, Mr. and Mrs. (servants), 

152 
List, Andrienne (see Sullivan, 

Andrienne) 
List, Anna (Mattheus), 27-8, 31-2, 

35,38 

List, Henri, 27, 31-2, 35, 38 
List, Jenny (see Whittlesey) 
List, Jules, 27, 32, 38 
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 

73 

Lotus Club, 51, 72-9, 85-92 
Lowell, James Russell, 72 

Marryat, Captain, 34 
Masonic Temple, Boston, 33-4 
Masonic Temple, Chicago, 115 
Mattheus, Anna (see List) 
McCormick, Virginia, 220 
McKim, Charles, 137, 139, 141, 159, 

206, 208, 216, 222-3, 230, 248, 

295 

McLean, Robert, 111 
McVicker's Theatre, Chicago, 

143-4, 264, 288, 304 
Memorial Hall (Harvard), 39 
Menard, Rene, 64, 66 
Merchants' National Bank, 

Grinnell, la., 260-1, 268-9 
Michelangelo, 34, 64-6, 109 
Millet, Jean Francois, 129 
Millet, Louis, 59, 62, 119, 121, 206, 

269 

Monroe, Harriet, 121-2, 266, 286 
Montauk Building, Chicago, 103 
Montgomery (athlete), 86 
Moody, D. L^ 80-2, 85 
Moody Tabernacle, Chicago, 

80-5, 99 
Morton, Levi P., 122 



319 



Mosque of Delhi, 155 
Mosques of Cairo, 155 
Mumford, Lewis, 308 
Mundie (partner of Jenney), 219 

"Nasby, Petroleum V.," 72 

Nash, Beau, 25, 122 

National Farmers' Bank (now 

Security), Owatonna, Minn,, 

246-7, 256, 267 
New Central Music Hall, 

Chicago, 96 
Nietzsche, F. W., 152 
Nimmons, George, 282-3, 296, 

306-7 

Ocean Springs, Miss., cottage, 125, 

145-6, 156, 162, 213-4, 220, 224, 

226, 231-2, 237-9, 243, 245, 248, 

256, 287 
Opera Festival House, Chicago, 

105-6 
Opera House, Pueblo, Col, 123-4, 

147 
Owatonna Bank (see National 

Farmers*) 
Owatonna High School Building, 

Minn., 267, 270, 277-8 
Owen, Allison, 154, 243, 289 

Pantheon, Rome, 222 

Papanti, Count Lorenzo, 25-6, 29 

Paris Exposition, 215 

Parton, James, 73 

Pascal, M., 215 

Patti, Adelina, 105, 122 

Peabody, R. S., 137, 139, 141, 159, 

216, 219, 223 
Peck, Ferdinand, 105-6, 112-4, 

116, 121-3 
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine 

Arts, 44 
People's Savings Bank, Sidney, O., 

256-7, 268-71, 273-4 
Plato, 228 



Post, George, 137, 139, 141, 202, 

206, 216, 223, 230 
Poussin, Nicolas, 64 
Purcell, William Gray, 229-32, 

238, 250, 252, 258, 279 
Puvis de Chavannes, P., 261 

Rabelais, F., 75 
Reid, Thomas Mayne, 34 
Rice, Wallace, 286-7, 305 
Richardson, Henry, 41, 44, 99-100, 

104-6, 108-10, 112, 115, 123-4, 

137, 139, 155, 202 
Riley, James Whitcomb, 255-6 
Ritter, Louis, 206 
Roche, Martin, 49, 104, 115 
Root, John, 103-4, 110, 115, 121, 

132-3, 138-42, 147, 149, 197, 

201-2 
Rothschild Store Building, 

Chicago, 99, 127 
Royal Institute of British 

Architects, 295 
Ryerson, Martin, 99-100, 127 
Ryerson tomb, 127 

Saarinen, Eliel, 160, 290-1, 299 
Sailor, Homer, 254-5, 266, 271, 

276-8 
St, John's Church, Ocean Springs, 

Miss., 239 
St. Paul's Church, Cedar Rapids, 

la., 252, 256-60 
Salt Lake City (Dooly Block), 

123-4 

Sankey, Ira D., 81 
Schiller Building, Chicago, 147-8, 

201 
Schlesinger & Mayer (later Carson 

Pirie Scott) store, Chicago, 

211-2, 231, 234, 236-7, 241, 

260, 264 

Schneider, Christian, 284 
Schubert, Franz, 236 
Schuyler, Montgomery, 209, 257, 

265 



320 



Security Bank, Owatonna (see 
National Farmers') 

Selden, Camille, 67 

Sheffield, Albert, 285, 296, 302, 
306-7 

Simmons, T. H., 251-2, 259-60 

Sinai Temple, Chicago, 79-80, 85, 
93 

Smith, Lyndon, 206-8, 217, 222, 
224, 226-8, 236-9, 276 

Spelman, Mary (see Sullivan) 

Spelman, Mr., 156-7 

Spencer, Herbert, 73, 91, 128, 131 

Spenser, Edmund, 73 

Steele, William L., 207, 229, 286 

Sturgis, Russell, 208 

Sullivan, Albert, 29-35, 38, 47-8, 
51-2, 61, 70, 73, 75, 86-9, 90-3, 
96,100-3,111,113,115,122,126, 
152, 154, 156-7, 161, 203-4, 212, 
220,233,248,259,287,306-8 

Sullivan, Albert (the younger), 
233 

Sullivan, Andrienne, 27-8, 33-4, 39, 
48, 60, 70, 95, 99-100, 102-3, 
106-7, 111, 126-7, 151-3, 218, 287, 
305 

Sullivan, Andrienne (the 
younger), 203-4, 307 

Sullivan brothers, 85, 90, 156, 260 

Sullivan, Louis, birth, 29; infancy 
and childhood, 31-2; taught 
drawing by mother, 33; schools, 
33ff.; early music, 39; at "Boston 
Tech," 40-2; admires Richard- 
son, 41, 108-9; in Philadelphia, 
43-6; in Chicago, 48ff.; meets 
Edelmann, 49; athletics and bot- 
any at Lotus dub, 51, 72-9, 85- 
90, 92; in Paris, 54-65; Rome and 
Florence, 65-6; return to Chi- 
cago, 69ff.; first designing, 80-5; 
meets Adler, 94; partnership, 97; 
early buildings, 99-100, 105-6; 
first speech, 107; designs Audi- 
torium, 112-6, 118-21; engages 



Wright, 117-8; Elmslie, 118; 
goes to Ocean Springs, 124; de- 
signs his first skyscraper, 129-30; 
Transportation Building, 147, 
153-5; invents "set-back," 148; 
break with Wright, 162; Guar- 
anty Building, 163-4; break with 
Adler, 197; break with Albert 
Sullivan, 204; designs Bayard 
(Condict) Building, New York, 
207-9; marriage, 213; connois- 
seur of roses, 213-4; Kindergar- 
ten Chats, 217ff.; Schlesinger & 
Mayer store, 211, 231, 234ff.; 
break with wife, 244; designs 
first bank, 246-7; break with 
Elmslie, 250; engages Parker 
Berry, 250; visited by Wright, 
262; break with Berry, 271; 
leaves Auditorium Tower, 275; 
last buildings, 277-81; Autobi- 
ography of an Idea, 283ff.; Sys- 
tem of Architectural Ornament^ 
285ff.; revisited by Wright, 287, 
299, 303; defense of Saarinen, 
290; eulogy of Wright, 292; ill- 
ness, 300; death, 305. 
Sullivan, Margaret, 210, 212-3, 217, 
222-4, 226-7, 237-40, 243-5, 256, 
262, 267, 287, 289 
Sullivan, Mary, 84, 161, 198, 203-4, 

212, 233, 260, 308 
Sullivan, Patrick, 23-35, 42, 47-8, 
52, 62, 69-70, 95, 99, 100-2, 127, 
218, 305 
Summerson, John, 295 

Tacoma Building, Chicago, 116 
Taft, Lorado, 255 
Taine, Hippolyte, 38, 64, 66 
"Taliesin," 263, 288, 296, 304 
Tamagno, Francesco, 122 
Tennyson, Alfred, 37 
Tompson, George (Tommy), 36, 

39 
Tompson, John, 39, 50, 153 



Transportation Building, Chicago, 
141-2, 146-7, 153-5, 158-61, 201, 
207, 209, 223, 226, 247, 258, 264, 
270, 273, 282, 304 

Troutwine (engineer), 91 

Twain, Mark, 72 

Tyler, M. C, 73 

TyndalL, John, 73, 90 

Van Allen Building, Clinton, la., 

254, 260 
Van Brunt, Henry, 39, 42, 137-9, 

141, 216 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 223 
Vaudremer, Emile, 40, 58-60, 64-7, 

72 

Viollet-le-Duc, E. E., 90, 200 
Vitruvius, 150 

Wagner, Richard, 50, 128-9, 131 
Wainwright, Charlotte, 146, 294 
Wainwright, Ellis, 129, 146, 151, 

203, 229 

Wainwright, Samuel, 129 
Wainwright Building, St. Louis, 

129-31, 133, 147, 149, 160, 163, 

219, 232, 264, 267 
Wainwright hotel, St. Louis, 151 
Wainwright house, St. Louis, 151 
Wainwright tomb, St. Louis, 146 

150, 159 



Walker Warehouse, Chicago, 115 
Ware, William, 39-42, 58, 65, 72, 

113-6, 137 

Werner, Frank, 278, 280 
Whitaker, Charles A., 283, 285-6, 

294 
Whitman, Walt, 128-9, 131, 152, 

218,220,225,248,294-5 
Whitdesey, Anna, 35-7 
Whitdesey, Jenny, 27, 31-6, 106 
Whitdesey, Minnie, 37-8, 41, 52, 

294 

Whitdesey, Walter, 31, 37 
Williams, C. J., 51, 75, 86, 88 
Wilson, Beecher, 214-5, 299 
Woodsworth, Larry, 304 
Woolson, Moses, 38-9, 41, 50, 64, 

240 

Worcester, J, E., 73 
World building, New York, 223 
World's Fair, Chicago, 132, 

138-42, 158ff., 215-6 
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 116, 118, 

125-6, 128, 130-1, 143, 153, 156, 

162-4, 199, 201-3, 212, 216, 228- 

31, 241, 249-50, 258, 262-5, 267, 

271, 279, 287-8, 292-3, 296-300, 

303-5 
Wylie (athlete), 51, 92 

Zorn, Anders, 240